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Sanitation as a Key

to Global Health:
Voices from the Field

United Nations University, Institute for Water, Environment and Health

Sanitation as a Key
to Global Health:
Voices from the Field

Sanitation is the single most neglected MDG sector – afforded low

priority by donor and recipient governments alike. It is clear that
without an extraordinary effort at all levels the MDG target for sani-
tation will be missed by one billion people. WaterAid

This document would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of participants at an international
meeting to discuss innovations for policy and finance around the issue of sanitation. The event was held in
October 2008 at McMaster University, Canada. We would like to thank the meeting participants (see Appendix
I), keynote speakers (Jamie Bartram, Jamie Benidickson and Edward Kairu) and rapporteurs (Kate Mulligan,
Gussai Sheikheldin and Nancy Thornton). A special thanks to Michelle Vine for co-ordinating event logistics.
In addition, we would like to thank those who provided valuable written contributions to this monograph:
Jamie Benidickson; Kathryn Cooper; Therese Dooley; Edward Kairu; Diana Karanja; Delna Karanjia; Alexander
Karapetov; Jespal Panesar; Mujib Rahman; Mandip Kaur Sandher; Corinne Schuster-Wallace; and, Jack Sim. This
document benefitted from the comments and feedback of Karen Morrison and Madeleine Tye.

1. A set of latrines at the Notre Dame Dulawan (NDD) evacuation centre in Data Piang, Mindanao © David Swanson/IRIN 2009
2. A girl attends class at Fatima Jinnah Government Girls Primary School, a ‘child-friendly’ school in the city of Sheikhupura in
Punjab Province © UNICEF/NYHQ2006-0314/Giacomo Pirozzi
3. Hand-washing mural at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia © UNICEF/HQ07-0583/Giacomo Pirozzi
4. Separate latrines for boys and girls in a UNICEF-supported school in Senegal, Africa © UNICEF/HQ99-0812/Lemoyne
5. School latrines in Liberia, part of the UNICEF-supported back to school programme © UNICEF/HQ07-0634/Giacomo Pirozzi
6. A hand-washing station at a UNICEF-supported school in Lobaye Province, Central African Republic © UNICEF/HQ07/0404/
Giacomo Pirozzi

The designations employed and presentations of materials throughout this publication do not imply the expres-
sion of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the United Nations University (UNU) concerning legal status of any
country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The
views expressed in this publication are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views
of the UNU. Mention of the names of firms or commercial products does not imply endorsement by UNU.

© The United Nations University, 2010

Available from:
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ISBN: 92-808-6012-7

UNU-INWEH 2010. Sanitation as a Key to Global Health: Voices from the Field.
United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

Acknowledgements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
PHOTO CREDITS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
DISCLAIMER. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
CONTEXT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Summary for Decision Makers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

BINARIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
BARRIERS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
BREAKTHROUGHS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
NEXT STEPS AND CHALLENGES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
RECOMMENDATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
WHY DID PEOPLE EVER THINK IT WAS OK TO DUMP WASTE IN WATER?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Why is Access to Sanitation So Important?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


Binaries, Barriers and Breakthroughs at the Local Level. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

GENDER AND SANITATION – EMPOWERING YOUNG GIRLS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
ENHANCING CAPACITY IN SANITATION PROVISIONING FOR THE RURAL POOR: AN NGO PERSPECTIVE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
BINARIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
BARRIERS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
IMPROVING SANITATION THROUGH ADVOCACY AND SOCIAL MARKETING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
BREAKTHROUGHS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
THE ROLE OF AFRICAN CIVIL SOCIETY IN ADDRESSING THE AFRICAN SANITATION CRISIS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

Binaries, Barriers and Breakthroughs at the National, Regional and International Levels. . . . . . . 26
BINARIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
BARRIERS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
BREAKTHROUGHS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
TAPPING THE MARKET POTENTIAL - WHEN THERE IS A PROBLEM, THERE IS A MARKETPLACE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
CAN A G20 (LEADERS) FORUM SOLVE THE GLOBAL SANITATION CRISIS? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

Future Challenges and Recommendations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

IMPACTS OF GLOBAL CHANGE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
RECOMMENDATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
GREYWATER / BLACK WATER RECYCLING AND REUSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
AN EMERGING DEBATE: THE HUMAN RIGHT TO SANITATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
SANITATION AFTER THE MDGS – A NEW REVOLUTION?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

About the Authors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

Workshop PARTICIPANTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Sources. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 3


It is very clear that water-related disease is responsi- Access to sanitation does not automatically equate
ble for a significant proportion of the global burden of to use and change in behaviour. Therefore, educa-
illness. It is equally clear that, while there is significant tion, empowerment and community-participation
progress towards the Millennium Development Goal are equally critical, as evidenced by the success of
target for drinking water, sanitation is falling woefully community-led total sanitation. When coupled with
short of the target. Provisioning of adequate sanitation national government support and programming,
has not managed to keep up with population growth this can make significant inroads as, for example, in
and the aggregate number of unserved people has Bangladesh.
increased over the past 2 years. Projections by the
United Nations show that the world will miss the lat- In real terms, the commitment to provide sanitation
ter target by almost a billion people. The international to all does not have a huge price tag, especially when
community needs to wake up to this reality and its compared with the recent bailout funds mobilized to
ramifications for human development. overcome the global economic crisis. Indeed, a com-
mitment could and should be made to 100% coverage
Not only is sanitation critical for dignity and health, it by 2025, at an annual cost of 0.002% of GDP from
is the most basic form of source water protection – donor countries. However, there is a need for smart
without controlling inputs of raw sewage into water investment of these funds – initiatives that develop
bodies, drinking water treatment processes have to the market at the bottom of the pyramid and initiatives
be unnecessarily more effective and water-based that facilitate local business development and entre-
economic activities are compromised. This realisation preneurism. It is not simply a question of sanitation
is nothing new – indeed, it was recognised in England provisioning, but strengthening the local economy.
at the turn of the 19th century. In addition, sanitation
is a critical component in striving for global equity and There is a moral, civil, political and economic need
poverty reduction. to bring adequate sanitation to the global popula-
tion – adequate for human health and adequate for
What is new, however, is the realisation that a focus ecosystem integrity.
on drinking water alone does not necessarily result in
improved access to sanitation. Indeed, given the social Dr. Zafar Adeel
taboos around the subject of bodily wastes, sanitation Chair UN-Water
has been sidelined, both as a topic of conversation Director UNU-INWEH
and an investment priority. This is gradually changing;
the UN International Year of Sanitation, 2008, playing
a significant role. This is not to say that sanitation can
be dealt with as a stand-alone issue. Indeed, dis-
ease transmission pathways demand that sanitation,
hygiene and drinking water must all be dealt with to
have impacts upon water-related diseases. However,
each needs to be accorded adequate investment in
terms of education, capacity and financing.

Summary for Decision Makers

Even after the International Year of Sanitation (2008), declared by the UN to shine the spotlight on the issue
worldwide, the global community is far off its target to improve sanitation worldwide. 2.6 billion people lack access to
improved sanitation and over one billion simply defecate in open fields. Fewer people still practice hand washing and
other simple hygiene measures proven to reduce the spread of disease.

CONTEXT the simple reality that evacuating waste is a natural

human function that must be treated with dignity and
In October 2008 the United Nations University Insti- respect.
tute for Water, Environment and Health invited inter-
national representatives from NGOs, government, The ongoing disparities in access to safe sanita-
academia and the UN to a meeting to discuss barriers tion around the world are unjust. They are a glaring
and to identify breakthroughs to providing sanitation example of how poverty and inequality literally make
for all. This document has been compiled to summa- people sick, and in so doing they impede communities
rize our discussions, place them within the current from reaching their true economic, social, environmen-
global context, illustrate them with stories from the tal and human potential. Additionally, the evidence
field and provide recommendations for addressing base justifying investment in sanitation is beginning
the global sanitation crisis. Progress is needed at all to gather momentum, establishing the connections
scales in order to achieve sustainable improvements between sanitation, health, environmental well-being
in sanitation: service delivery, funding and institutional and prosperity. Given the relatively modest invest-
development. ments needed to achieve adequate sanitation, a lack
of attention to this issue in development planning can
INTRODUCTION no longer be justified.

Access to adequate sanitation is a key mechanism Why doesn’t every person on earth have a toilet?
for improving the health and well-being of the
What can we do to make sure that everyone uses one?
world’s most vulnerable. Yet the topic of sanita-
tion – that is, safe disposal of bodily waste – has been Are the reasons (and the solutions) the same for all
avoided by the global community, as have the behav- peoples?
ioural, political and financial commitments required
to make a difference. The overall process of providing The answers to these simple questions are complex,
adequate universal sanitation entails a high degree of but not insurmountable. After all, the world is making
integration across many disciplines, actors and scales progress on its commitment to provide safe drink-
but historically, the sanitation sector has been charac- ing water to all. Yet many people around the world,
terised by poor funding, fragmentation and disorgani- regardless of economic status, do not have access to
zation. Improved access to sanitation continues to be improved sanitation but do have access to other low
a low priority for a majority of stakeholders (i.e. access cost (more attractive) technologies such as cellular
to toilets, privacy, safe disposal of wastes, hand wash- phones. We need to bridge the gap between access
ing and basic hygiene). Even the word “sanitation” is to, and uptake of, these technologies. Sanitation could
sanitized, perpetuating ancient taboos about discuss- be as ubiquitous as cellular phone use.
ing human waste, obscuring and institutionalizing

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 5


Understanding opposing perspectives of the The barriers to global sustainable sanitation, in-
sanitation issues is critical to success. Address- cluding misunderstanding the cross-linkages to
ing the immediate and long-term actions associated health, limited infrastructure and social taboos
with global sanitation requires coming to terms are not insurmountable. Top-down approaches to
with some of sanitation’s “binaries”. These binaries sanitation rarely work as they do not tend to foster
are important to consider at local, national and ownership and understanding – key ingredients to
international scales. For example, women’s voices the long-term sustainability of any solution. A lack
have tended to go unheard, despite the fact that of understanding of the linkages between water,
women’s needs are materially different from those environment, hygiene practices and health, along
of men. While some argue that water-based (wet) with more physical limitations, such as access
sewage treatment technologies represent the to roads, electricity and water, make sustainable
pinnacle of improved sanitation, these may not be sanitation provisioning difficult. Even when people
ecologically or economically feasible for some or are aware of the connections between sanitation,
even most regions. Urine diversion and composting hygiene, health and well-being, barriers such as
toilets (dry) may be more appropriate solutions. land tenure rights, lack of time, and social taboos
prevent individuals and communities from be-
In order to facilitate sustainable uptake, com- ing empowered to adopt sustainable sanitation
munities and individuals need to be fully practices. At all scales, there is a need for training
engaged in both the problems and solutions to engage people across disciplines and sectors,
surrounding sanitation. There are many examples including engineering, water, sanitation, environ-
of effective and efficient provision of sanitation ment, finance and public health.
facilities, implemented without sustained use.
While most sanitation facilities currently lack the Institutional and policy shortcomings also con-
social status of other technologies (i.e., cellular stitute a significant barrier to sanitation provi-
phones), some have succeeded in creating demand sioning. At the national and international levels,
and stimulating community pride. It is important to sanitation is under-prioritized by donors and recipi-
document and disseminate these lessons learned. ent communities. The fragmentation of this sector,
along with current monitoring indicators, make
Lack of access to sanitation is largely a rural measuring progress towards the MDGs challeng-
problem. Although peri-urban slum areas lack ad- ing. This is compounded by a lack of transparency
equate sanitation access compared to formal urban and accountability and a lack of access to (good)
areas, 7 out of 10 people without improved sanita- data.
tion are rural inhabitants (JMP, 2010); this is despite
the benefits of sanitation to communities in terms BREAKTHROUGHS
of health, environment and productivity, which far
outweigh the initial cost of investment. A number of breakthroughs have occurred since
the turn of the century. the most prominent ones are
defining sanitation as an MDG target and the UN desig-
nated International Year of Sanitation, 2008. Approaches
that demonstrate significant progress in resolving the
global sanitation crisis include: Community-Led Total
Sanitation (CLTS); Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation
Transformation (PHAST); social marketing and civic
participation techniques; (Waste)Water Operator Part-

nerships (WOPs); and local enterprise and employment RECOMMENDATIONS
within the sanitation sector. These are supported by
tools such as: the sanitation ladder; the Global Annual 1. Sanitation must be addressed in the broader context of
Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS); global poverty and in concert with the other MDGs as
social marketing; and, user-pay models that ensure part of an overall strategy to increase global equity.
sustainability by encouraging community ownership 2. Sanitation should be a primary focus but must be situ-
through equity, rather than money. ated within the broader context of water management
and access to safe water.
Numerous instruments that will help us surmount 3. Sanitation must be integrated into community life –
the barriers to sanitation are under development. holistic, community-based and community-driven.
National governments are increasingly recognizing the Empower local communities (not just households)
need for co-ordinated strategies in terms of providing to identify needs, change behaviour, create demand
requisite policies and resources to improve access for ownership and overcome obstacles such as land
to sanitation. Innovations for harmonizing sanitation tenure.
investment and action are becoming realities: the 4. Investments in sanitation must be co-ordinated, long-
Global Sanitation Fund and the Sanitation and Water term and focus on both “software” (usage) as well
for All; Global Framework for Action at the international as “hardware” (facilities). To make monitoring more
level; sanitation ministries and coordinating bodies at valuable, community-based evaluations should strive to
the national level in some countries; and civil society integrate and examine failures and successes associ-
networks. Government-hosted regional sanitation ated with sanitation delivery.
meetings have further succeeded in bringing together 5. “Acceptable” sanitation access must be redefined
key sanitation stakeholders in order to discuss national within the context of gender, economic realities and
strategies and actions for improvement. environmental constraints.
6. Achievement targets should be redefined, moving from
NEXT STEPS AND CHALLENGES 50% coverage by 2015 to 100% coverage by 2025.
7. National NGOs need to co-ordinate their response to
The global sanitation crisis must be placed within the sanitation crisis and enhance communication, es-
the context of global changes. These include changes pecially regarding lessons learned, to form an effective
in settlement, migration, demographics, land use and and vocal lobby group for sanitation advocacy in order
climate patterns. Currently, progress towards sus- to facilitate a co-ordinated response.
tainable sanitation is contextualised by the emerging 8. New business models should be designed to develop
debate over sanitation as a human right. markets at the bottom of the pyramid and deal with
the apexes of the water-sanitation-hygiene triangle
A commitment on behalf of the G8 is needed to con- concurrently.
tinue making progress towards the MDG target. This 9. Countries need to recommit to official development
can be viewed through the lens of enlightened self-in- assistance equal to 0.7% of GDP and, within this
terest in the form of a significant business opportunity. framework, commit 0.002% of GDP to international
The global market share for sanitation, water supply investments in sanitation.
and efficiency is likely to be almost $660 billion by 2020
(UNEP, 2009). A precedent already exists for the G8
to respond to the sanitation crisis through the Toyako
Framework (2008) for action on global health. Within
the global sanitation crisis, there exists an opportunity
for a targeted commitment to action with finite bound-
aries, a clear goal, significant benefits to health and
well-being, as well as a clear return on investment.

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 7

WHY DID PEOPLE EVER The nineteenth century sanitary transformation facility. Unfortunately, lack of co-operation
THINK IT WAS OK TO was also hugely advantageous from a public between relevant levels of government meant
health perspective to intended beneficiaries, that the connecting sewers were not being
DUMP WASTE IN WATER? although there were also severe downstream installed. Thus the infrastructure needed
and distributional consequences on the water to transport waste from rapidly expanding
Jamie Benidickson, supplies and health of other communities. developments around the city to the treat-
ment facility was non-existent and wastes
University of Ottawa The Future of Flushing and of domestic sani- continued to flow through residential districts
tation more generally has not been a “top of into a once-beautiful flamingo sanctuary
One hundred and fifty years ago, a hot sum- mind” issue for legislators, policy-makers, and recreationally-valuable wetland. In the
mer reduced London’s Thames River to a and the media. But it has not been entirely course of a briefing from representatives of UN
“Great Stink,” which flowed under the noses forgotten, however much the “out of sight, Habitat in Nairobi, our informants described
of legislators in the houses of Parliament and out of mind” or “flush and forget” dicta have the enormous obstacles facing poorly-staffed
inspired MPs to legislate sanitary reform for influenced the agenda. A few recent maga- and under-resourced municipal governments
the first time. Prior to this time, governments zines suggest at least the potential for popular across the continent.
had left sanitation services to an unregulated understanding of the need to re-visit some
private sector. The public health revolution that comfortable assumptions. Most directly, the Canadians know these issues in relation to
followed required large investments of public August 2008 edition of the New International- aboriginal communities through a series of
funds on infrastructure, and the benefits to ist had as a cover story a feature entitled: “We studies and reports. The Walkerton Inquiry
health and well-being were immediately ap- need to think about toilets.” Maggie Smith, under the direction of Justice Dennis O’Connor
parent, including an increase of 15 years in guest editor of that issue, and Ben Fawcett devoted a chapter of its important report to
life expectancy in Britain between 1880 and have also recently published The Last Taboo: aboriginal water supply systems and sanita-
1920 that is largely attributed to sanitation Opening the Door on the Global Sanitation tion. This work coincided with studies by
(UNDP, 2006). Crisis (Earthscan, 2008). the Auditor General of Canada outlining the
shortcomings of these services on a national
The nineteenth century Flushing Revolution Sanitation, an afterthought to the Millen- basis. This framework combined with media
in Europe and in the United States was closely nium Development Goals, is at least now a interest around the plight of Kashechewan on
connected to developments in medicine and global agenda item - and a big challenge. To James Bay gave rise to emergency measures
science which are likely familiar to many. A convey the size of that challenge on the basis and to an intensive task force effort under the
medical belief that diseases might be transmit- of progress in Sub-Saharan Africa as of 2004, leadership of Dr. Harry Swain. His report on
ted by miasmas or “foul vapours” legitimated the prospect of achieving the MDG would the need for, governance of and financing of
the effort to remove organic waste, including involve providing basic sanitation services, new arrangements has been under consid-
human excrement, from growing urban centres each and every year as far out as 2015 to a eration for some time with both Indian and
as a public health measure. The best scientific population equivalent to the whole of Canada. Northern Affairs and the Assembly of First
evidence of the day from leading chemists And that is basic sanitation, not basic North Nations engaged in thorough consultations.
suggested that “running water purifies itself ” American services.
and thus legitimated the water-borne removal The need to provide sanitation services, new
of organic waste for discharge into rivers, The situation in rural communities includes systems and replacement of existing systems
lakes and streams. adoption of free-standing small-scale systems which are in widespread decline, is influenced
capable of treating water, recovering waste- by a range of factors – institutional, financial
The overall process entailed integration across water for re-use, and capturing resulting gases and regulatory – in many settings. The twenty-
medicine, science, law and regulation, engi- as a source of energy for power, lighting and first century puts all these efforts in a wider
neering, municipal finance and government cooking. Women in communities with these context which must also be noted. It involves
organization. New institutions, new laws services seemed to have some relief from the the institutional, financial and regulatory
and new specialists emerged to support the burdens of carrying water by hand and from challenges of climate change. That context
transformation and the outcome was, in my the adverse health consequences of cooking presents both challenges and opportunities,
opinion, cultural in its depth and significance. over charcoal fires in poorly ventilated homes. but is again stimulating thought – and invest-
ment - about sanitation in numerous settings.
The domestic sanitary revolution of the nine- On a field trip to Lake Nakuru in East Africa
teenth century was also cumulative. The in- local NGOs cited the significant investment that Two examples illustrate new transformative
frastructure installed to facilitate flushing was had gone into a major municipal wastewater possibilities at least in the developed world.
enduring and new users took advantage of
newly established systems in a process that
might loosely be described in some disciplines
as path dependence. Today, personal care Creative international financing mechanisms may be available to provide
products and pharmaceuticals flow through our support from greenhouse gas emitters in the developing world for family-
bodies and other conduits following the same
route. Of course, none of these discharges go based methane capture. By contributing to greenhouse gas reductions in
“away” and today’s researchers are attempting the developing world these organizations might become eligible for valuable
to understand the consequences. credits relating to their own emissions.

First, in Gotteburg, Sweden, municipal of- criteria include financial sustainability, the in the developing world has the potential to
ficials have incorporated gas recovery from user pays principle, simplicity, transparency contribute to conditions that may facilitate a
sewage and waste treatment into the climate and predictability. For many people around satisfactory combination of regulatory stability,
change mitigation strategy of the commu- the world facing the immediate necessities of community authority and supervision, and
nity. Another example, the Dockside Green water and sanitation, these will appear rather financial security that would support ongoing
project in Victoria, British Columbia, treats abstract considerations and so it is important investment in sanitation. Research from some
all sewage generated on site and has a level to contemplate instruments that might support World Bank advisors suggests that in this
of potable water consumption that is 65% their claims to the basic sanitation services, respect, too, a suitably designed regulatory
less than in traditional developments. It is of water-based or otherwise, that residents of framework can buttress and encourage the
related interest to note that some investment my continent take for granted. efforts and intentions of advocates.
advisors have identified infrastructure as an
opportunity for significant growth with pos- Two possible instruments include the human In summary, these background observations
sible contributions coming from architecture rights framework for promoting access to concerning history, institutional development
and design, from materials and supplies, or sanitation and general regulatory reform of and potential contributions from law and
from major engineering operations (e.g. Tal, the water supply framework. regulation to support the financing of im-
2009). Of course all of these sub-elements and proved sanitation services help to underscore
their technological components need to be Human Rights: The Universal Declaration a few themes that may be worthy of further
mobilized on the international front as well, of Human Rights, Article 25 states that: “[e] discussion and analysis.
and the legal and institutional framework veryone has the right to a standard of living
again has an important role to play. adequate for the health and well-being of his 1. In closing the sanitation gap, what values
family, including food…”1 are capable of driving the effort forward and
Distinctive national circumstances will eventu- preserving the necessary level of commitment?
ally dictate the details. Thus, as jurisdictions This text and comparable affirmations in other What is the contribution of “dignity”? What is
such as the European Union or Ontario, move international instruments have contributed the contribution of “equality”? And how can
to implement some form of full-cost pricing to current and ongoing discussions about human rights’ instruments and institutions
or polluter pay framework for municipal the existence of a right to water and means further the delivery of services?
wastewater and sewage services, they will to confirm that right in new settings. Such
have to do so with particular reference to a right would then need to be implemented 2. To the extent that legal underpinnings associ-
local circumstances. Ontario has taken some in national jurisdictions and its contents ated with a human rights foundation for water
steps post-Walkerton to put a legislative and determined. and sanitation services drive that process, what
regulatory framework in place in the form of measures and arrangements will be called for
the Sustainable Water and Wastewater Services The Republic of South Africa is one jurisdic- to mobilize and incorporate financial resources
Act. But to make this work, a highly-detailed tion where a right to water has attained con- from both public and private sources?
understanding of various components will be stitutional status and has been incorporated
required. Renzetti and Kushner (2004) have in national legislation for implementation 3. What resources can be brought to bear on
developed a case study in which they begin under the authority of local or municipal the challenge, particularly given the intense
to address such issues as: governments. The general South African competition from other needs and sectors
framework ultimately prescribed a level of including health generally, transportation,
• What rate of return should be allocated to service of 25 litres per person per day, and that and education, among others? And what are
capital invested in systems/ utilities invest- level of service was recently tested as a result the legal preconditions for mobilizing those
ments in Ontario? of conflict over the application of associated resources?
water metering and financing arrangements.
• What costs should be attributed to energy in Mazibuko is a South African High Court case 4. How, as an immediate consideration, can the
Ontario which is a significant component of in which the legal framework around water potential adverse implications of the current
operations? supply was challenged from the perspective deteriorating financial climate on investment
of the fundamental proposition: “Water is life; in sanitation be mitigated?
• How should the value of raw water be deter- sanitation is dignity.” Judicial enforcement of
mined in Ontario? the implementation of the right to water in 5. To what extent can/should the legal and regu-
South Africa on human rights, constitutional latory framework for sanitation services be
• How do we account for the changes in On- and administrative law grounds of fairness and free-standing, and to what extent might it
tario water quality resulting from sewage non-discrimination eventually resulted in an benefit from integration with widespread
arrangements? elevation of the level of legal entitlement to 50 concern around climate change? Are there
litres per person per day in a community where synergies around the capture of greenhouse
More generally, one aspect of the work of the the court understood that modest volume to gases and Kyoto or post-Kyoto implementa-
World Water Assessment Report (2006) out- be physically available and affordable. tion mechanisms that are worth pursuing?
lined factors relevant to “Charging forWater
Services” and sketched out some relevant Regulatory reform: The overall regulatory
features of arrangements that would pro- framework for water and wastewater services
duce “safe and affordable water for all and
maximum net social benefits”(p.413). Core 1 http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 9

Why is Access to Sanitation
So Important?

Access to adequate sanitation is a key mechanism for improving IMPROVING ACCESS TO

the health and well-being of the most vulnerable individuals and AND USE OF SANITATION
the poorest countries in the world. Exposure to human faecal waste FACILITIES CAN HELP
increases the likelihood of contracting certain diseases. Those living THE WORLD ATTAIN
without improved sanitation live in cities, peri-urban slums, and rural THE MILLENNIUM
and remote areas. They live in a range of countries, from low- to middle- DEVELOPMENT GOALS
to high-income. They tend to be the most marginalized communities
within any country or region – living in material poverty; lacking essen- Despite its underlying relationship with all
tial economic, social and political resources; and often facing multiple MDGs, sanitation was not acknowledged
until 2002, when it was included under Goal
vulnerabilities related to gender, age, ethnicity, health and social status. 7: Ensuring environmental sustainability.
A recent report by the WHO (2008) estimates that almost 10% of the Unfortunately, improved sanitation remains
global burden of illness is related to water, through contaminated drink- the “poor cousin” of the other Millennium
Development Goals, including its sister target,
ing water, inadequate or non-existent sanitation and hygiene, and poor improved drinking water. While the world is
water management. Globally, 1.5 million children die annually as a result on track to meet the drinking water target,
(UNICEF, 2006). It is estimated that nearly 1.2 billion people (or almost 1 progress on sanitation has been uneven at
best. The International Year of Sanitation
in 5) practice open defecation, either by necessity or by preference. The (IYS) (2008) was launched in response to
transition to improved sanitation is accompanied by more than a 30% re- a call for improved access to sanitation,
duction in child mortality (e.g. Esrey et al, 2001) while sanitation reduces drawing attention to the needs of popula-
tions by highlighting five key messages (UN
morbidity by almost 37% (Bartram et al., 2007). Water, 2008):

• Sanitation is vital for health;

• Sanitation contributes to social development;

• Sanitation is a good economic investment;

• Sanitation helps the environment; and

• Sanitation is achievable.

With the active engagement of key stakehold-

ers (policy makers, industry, and high-level
decision makers), progress is being made
to improve the availability and use of basic
toilets and laundry, rates of personal hygiene,
and access to solid waste management and
drainage infrastructure. This has implications
for all MDGs:

Progress towards the MGD sanitation target, by country, 2008.

© WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme 2010

Separate latrines for boys and girls in a
UNICEF-supported school in Senegal, Africa © UNICEF/HQ99-0812/Lemoyne

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hun‑

ger: Sanitation provides economic benefits that
reduce extreme poverty. A recent cost-benefit
analysis by the WHO (Hutton and Bartram,
2008) demonstrated an estimated economic
return of between US$3 and $34 for every US
$1 invested in water and sanitation. Improved
sanitation also reduces deaths from malnutri-
tion (Bartram et al., 2007).

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Educa‑

tion: Improved sanitation promotes school
attendance - 443 million school days are lost
each year due to water-related diseases2 . More-

over, there is a clear gender divide in access

to education. A majority of the 121 million
school-aged children not in school are girls;
at the primary level, this is a result of being
responsible for household chores including
fetching water. Once girls reach puberty, a Proportional distribution of cause-specific deaths among children under five years of age, 2004
© UNICEF/WHO 2009.
lack of access to sanitation becomes a central
cultural and human health issue. Female Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality: In addition Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and
illiteracy and low levels of education often to reducing child mortality from diarrhoea- Other Diseases: Improved sanitation and
lead to poor health outcomes for pregnant related malnutrition, improved sanitation hygiene reduces risk of waterborne diseases
women and their children (see Goal 5). As a can help to reduce morbidity for millions of like cholera, reduces morbidity and mortality
corollary, school-based sanitation education other children. An estimated 50% of cases from opportunistic infections for AIDS sufferers
can influence entire communities by training of malnutrition are associated with repeated and helps to ensure that they have access to
the next generation in safe and sustainable diarrhoea and intestinal infections as a result clean and private facilities (UNICEF, 2009).
hygiene practices (Breslin, 2008). of unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or in-
sufficient hygiene. This accounts for 860,000 Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability:
Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Em‑ preventable child deaths per year (Prüss-Üstün Improved water and sanitation benefits the
power Women: Safe sanitation facilities reduce et al., 2008). connection between environment and health
exposure to sexual and physical violence and (Harvey, 2008). Community participation
harassment for women and girls, and gender- Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health: Maternal in water, sanitation and hygiene practices
sensitive hygiene facilities at school and work health, child survival and access to sanitation facilitates recognition of the connections
promote the attendance of menstruating girls are intricately linked. Poor maternal nutrition, between environment, health and sustainable
and women. The lack of dignity, privacy and including diarrhoea-related malnutrition, is stewardship of local resources.
safety accorded women without access to a major risk factor for maternal deaths and
sanitation can further manifest itself through can affect birth weight and child development. Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for
increased urinary tract infections as women Poor sanitation and lack of access to clean Development: The sanitation sector is currently
choose to drink less during the day as part of water increases the risk of infection during fragmented, with stakeholders playing diverse
their sanitation strategy. childbirth. Improved sanitation and hygiene roles in different regions and time periods. A
enhances the health of mothers as caregivers, more harmonized coalition-building approach
2 http://www.wateraid.org/international/what_ primary water carriers and food preparers. between these partners, where tested, has im-
we_do/statistics/default.asp proved partnerships and access to sanitation.

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 11

It is now widely accepted that the Millennium them. Basic sanitation technologies at the bottom
Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing, of the ladder are relatively inexpensive and can be
by half, the number of people without access locally sourced.
to improved sanitation will not be reached by
2015. A 2008 study (WHO) calculates that $358 bil-
lion is required to meet the MDG target worldwide Sanitation: a sanitized word for the simple practice of
-- $142 billion to expand coverage (mostly to rural dealing with human defecation. Sanitation can be used
areas) and $216 billion to maintain existing services more broadly to include solid waste disposal, but this
(mostly in urban areas)(Hutton and Bartram, 2008). document focuses on human biological waste. Ideal
In order for Africa to meet the water and sanitation sanitation facilities are those that:
MDGs, the number of people served has to double
from 350 million in 2006 (AMCOW, 2008). In Sub- • promote safe treatment of human waste for health and
Saharan Africa, at the current rate of progress, the for the environment;
sanitation MDG will not be met for a long time. • limit human exposure to faecal matter; avoid
Although difficult to predict using current mod- contamination of water and food sources;
els, some suggest it may even be as late as 2076 • provide secure spaces for men, women and children to
(UNDP, 2006). defecate, each with their unique needs;
• encourage hygienic practices including handwashing.

Sustainable sanitation is a fundamental require-

ment for local participation in educational and
economic activity. For example, lack of sanitation
hurts local economies when poor health results in
lost working days and school absenteeism, pre-
senteeism (reduced productivity while at work or
school), reduced school attendance and increased
time taken to care for the sick. According to UN
Figure 1: Sanitation Ladder Concept (Courtesy of J. Bartram) figures, reducing by half the number of people
without access to sanitation would add 3.2 billion
The “sanitation ladder” offers a practical step- annual working days worldwide by promoting the
wise approach to sanitation provisioning. The daily health of workers; universal sanitation cover-
world sanitation community refers to facilities as age would add more than four times as many work-
“improved” according to a “ladder” of sanitation ing days (Hutton and Haller, 2004).
(Figure 1). Each improvement - from open defeca-
tion to more sophisticated toilets - represents a
rung on the ladder. Globally, 2.6 billion people do
The world is off track to meet the MDG for sanitation
not use improved sanitation. Eleven per cent use
by 2015. Appropriate, adequate, sustained investment
an “unimproved” sanitation facility – one that does
is required to make sustained and sustainable
not ensure hygienic separation of excreta from
improvements in global sanitation. Maximizing
human contact. A further 11% share an improved
partnership and network benefits, and harmonizing
facility with other household(s). Worldwide, only
and coordinating sector activities at the local, regional,
61% of people have access to private, improved
national and international levels are essential for
sanitation facilities (JMP, 2010). Many technical
securing this financing.
solutions exist, as does the expertise to implement

Strong synergies exist between water, sanita- Access to adequate sanitation reduces local en-
tion and hygiene improvements. These can lead vironmental degradation, improving ecosystem
to an enhanced influence on health and well-being services as well as human health and well-be-
when implemented together (e.g. Esrey, 1996; ing. Bacteriologically safe and hygienic disposal of
Jalan and Ravallion, 2001; Eisenberg et al., 2007). human waste is important in maintaining a healthy
When examined from an epidemiological perspec- environment, and thus, human health. Sanitation
tive, this triangle of intervention makes sense in and sewage treatment should be seen as preven-
terms of transmission routes for acute gastrointes- tive barriers in local source water protection, espe-
tinal diseases (Figure 2). People need to understand cially for surface waters and shallow groundwater
the local linkages between sanitation, hygiene, resources. Treated wastes, through composting,
water and health and a concerted effort must be can be used as fertilizer - either to be sold for profit,
made at all levels to encourage uptake of practices or applied to crops to improve yield. Alternatively,
to reduce water-related diseases as a result of that human and animal wastes can be used to produce
knowledge. For example, the 5 F’s of sanitation – biofuel, an accessible, reliable, clean and renewable
faeces, fingers, flies, fluids and fields – are used in fuel option (as demonstrated, for example, through
education and awareness programmes. Nepal’s Biogas Support Program). Currently, the
sanitation ladder does not incorporate measures
of ecologically safe waste disposal and there are
cultural and religious stigmas associated with using
human waste in food production. However, the
opportunity to benefit economically from improved
sanitation practices should be considered when
identifying strategies for reaching global sustainable

Sanitation is the foundation for realising full

Figure 2: Interlinkages between water, sanitation and hygiene
for gastrointestinal disease transmission (modified from Eisen- human potentials. Sanitation facilitates:
berg et al., 2007) • Children becoming adults:
• Women surviving child birth;
The benefits of access to safe drinking water • Girls having a secondary education; and,
will be maximized if undertaken in conjunction • Adults actively participating in the local economy.
with sanitation and hygiene practices. Recent
evidence highlights the importance of hygienic
behaviours, particularly hand-washing with soap
which has been linked to an almost 50% reduc-
tion in rates of diarrhoea incidences (e.g., Curtis
and Cairncross, 2003; Luby et al., 2004). In addi-
tion, good hygiene practices improve overall health
through reduced rates of pneumonia, scabies, skin
and eye infections, and influenza (UNICEF, 2009).
Even with this evidence, the magnitude of the
hygiene challenge remains overwhelming, in part
because research has linked good human hygiene
Girls in school in Indonesia © UNICEF/HQ05-0312/Estey
with readily available water.

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 13

Binaries, Barriers and
Breakthroughs at the
Local Level

Addressing global sanitation needs requires innovative action

and broad commitments that can be tailored to local situations
based on strengths and circumstances. Reviewing progress in
sanitation entails coming to terms with “binaries” as well as inves-
tigating the barriers preventing, and the breakthroughs that have
or should help to further a system of accountability, delivery and
decision-making for funding sustainable improvements in sanitation
at all levels.

Kathryn Cooper,
Water for People
Women are the direct beneficiaries of im-
proved knowledge on health and hygiene
related issues. Women’s enhanced awareness
is translated into improved hygiene practices
that directly benefit children, the elderly,
their families and the wider community.
It is imperative that women are educated
about the importance of hygiene to ensure
personal health and that of their families.
Exposing one’s self in the open, especially
during menstruation, affects women’s safety,
dignity and sense of self-worth; maintain-
ing dignity is critically important during a
young girl’s adolescent years. Having proper,
safe and private sanitation facilities helps to
ensure that girls stay in school and further
their education, thus improving the overall
status of their families and livelihood.

International conferences throughout the

1990’s consistently highlighted the impor-
tance of increasing women’s participation
in water-related initiatives by drawing on
women’s knowledge and increasing their
involvement as managers and decision makers
on water-related issues; however, little has
been done to promote women’s involvement
in the sanitation sector. Household sanita-
tion is everyone’s responsibility. However,
Public Latrine on the shore of Lake Victoria, Kenya © C.Wallace 2009 women carry a large percentage of the burden
through their role as caregiver, as well as
their personal sanitation needs.

School latrines in Liberia, part of the UNICEF-supported
back to school programme © UNICEF/HQ07-0634/Giacomo Pirozzi

To combat sanitation and hygiene issues inter- impact their capacity to learn and their ability latrine was valued for its perceived role in the
nationally, we need to collectively articulate to regularly attend school. improvement of dignity (53% of respondents
who is most affected and how we can make somewhat; 16% significantly). In the school
the greatest impact on the community. For Women and girls are particularly impacted by environment, 25% of respondents did not have
many women, their lives are lived in shadows the sanitation crisis. Poor access to improved a facility to wash their hands by the toilet and
cast by men and dominated by the demands sanitation increases their vulnerability to almost 40% when asked what they would im-
of subsistence farming. They lead a life that violence when having to relieve themselves prove at the school mentioned a combination
precludes time for regrets or hopes of a different in the open after nightfall. The situation is of sinks, soap and oil for their hands. Almost
future. Improving girls’ education, especially at further complicated by menstruation. Studies 40% indicated that they missed at least some
the secondary level where gender differences show that girls who are menstruating do not school while menstruating, although 88% of
are more pronounced, is the first and most attend school because school latrines, if avail- respondents felt that the school provided a
critical step towards the economic empower- able, often do not offer the necessary privacy, safe, clean place to go to the toilet.
ment of women, and towards reducing child sanitary waste disposal or hand-washing
and maternal mortality. Research shows that facilities (e.g. Tien, 2007).
for women and girls, secondary education is Around the world, girls’ education
associated with improved economic prospects, A compilation of qualitative information is is stopped short - not for lack of
better reproductive health, and improved being developed based on a series of face- desire, but for lack of sanitation.
HIV awareness. Moreover, it is now widely to-face interviews in Malawi and Rwanda
recognized that the education and economic in conjunction with an environmental scan. Many practical and cultural barriers
empowerment of women is key to changing Five hundred girls were interviewed over a form once a girl reaches puberty,
the trajectory of world poverty. Specifically, period of 6 months in 2008 regarding the role all of which are easily overcome by
an extra year of female education can reduce of women and girls, their social barriers, and
infant mortality by 5-10 percent (e.g. Peña et physical constraints pertaining to their use of access to appropriate sanitation.
al., 2000). In Africa, children of mothers who improved sanitation and hygiene practices
receive five years of primary education are 40% in Africa.
less likely to die before age five than those of
uneducated mothers (UNICEF, 2009a). Kofi The work was undertaken in order to help
Annan, in 1999, describes girls’ education as young women identify their secondary school
the “single highest returning social investment sanitation requirements, empower them to
in the world today”. Education is the key to gain greater control over their educational
human development and women who are experience in order to reach their full potential,
educated have fewer and healthier children and to provide opportunities to resolve issues
and are far more likely to send their own related to access to sanitation in schools. The
children to school. following observations are based on a small
subset of respondents (n=43) with an average
Lack of sanitation and inadequate hygiene age of 17 from Rwanda. The majority self-
are crucial issues that are rarely addressed, identified as middle-income families (65%),
yet they contribute to a number of problems with 35% identifying themselves among the
facing women and girls in developing coun- poorest in their community.
tries. Communities that lack sanitation and
practice poor hygiene have increased rates Preliminary findings illustrate that all re-
of diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid spondents had a latrine in the house, but only
and parasitic infections. These diseases have 18 % had a sink next to the latrine; even with
a strong negative impact on the health and a household latrine, 4% of respondents still
Household Latrine in a rural Kenyan community
nutrition of children, which in turn, negatively practiced open defecation. The household
© C.Wallace 2009

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 15

ENHANCING CAPACITY A central challenge to partnership building is information on the sanitation situation in de-
finding reliable local partners with the requi- veloping countries and a lack of professional
IN SANITATION site capacity to deliver technical assistance. It contact with local partners. This problem can
PROVISIONING FOR THE is even harder to find an NGO with existing be applied to a majority of international chari-
RURAL POOR: AN NGO relations with government agencies. Locally, ties and institutional donors regardless of the
individual NGOs are often seen as vociferous scope of activity, location and specific sectoral
PERSPECTIVE and antagonistic. Therefore, effective contribu- focus. In response, IDRF, with a grant from the
tions to sanitation provisioning requires well Harbinger Foundation, is actively working to
Alexander Karapetov, Jespal organized, credible NGO networks. These local establish a coalition of Canadian Islamic-based
networks should have very clear objectives and organizations, involved in international water
Panesar and Delna Karanjia strategies. External support is often necessary and sanitation projects.
initially but requires a sensitive approach that
International Development includes the ability to pull back and encourage Energy
and Relief Foundation the development of local leadership over time.
When there is no competition between govern- Energy is central to sustainable development
There is a paucity of education dealing with ment and NGOs, they become development and poverty reduction efforts. It affects all
why sanitation is important and about hygiene partners and civil society becomes represented aspects of development - social, economic, and
in general which is why IDRF is involved with at the highest level. environmental - including livelihoods, access
volunteer training on hygiene promotion and to water, agricultural productivity, health,
environmental sanitation campaigns as well as In this context, the most critical issues include: population levels, education, and gender-related
infrastructure development. For project initia- issues. None of the sustainable development
tives to be successful, there are many barriers • Local Governments often underestimating or goals can be met without major improvement
relating to the decision-making processes at ignoring the potential impact of NGO activities; in the quality and quantity of energy services
macro and micro levels, including the role of in developing countries. Working on IWS
governance structures and social relations. • NGOs underestimating and ignoring the value strategies for Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is
of partnership with Government and businesses; clear that in order to provide rural populations
MACROECONOMIC FOCUS: with sanitation facilities, alternative energy
• A lack of trust and professional networking sources should be utilized. The power grids
National Governments in Co- between NGOs, Government authorities and of the majority of developing countries suffer
operation with Civil Society the business community, reducing effectiveness from a lack of capacity or significant damage.
Institutions and efficiency; In general in these situations, the majority of
household consumers depend on solid fuels
When NGOs work together cooperatively as • NGOs lacking practical experience and institu- which contribute to environmental degrada-
well as in cooperation with local governments, tional capacity to render training, information tion and exacerbate pulmonary diseases. In
their chances of successful advocacy for pro- and consulting services to the end-beneficiaries certain regions, solar energy is a key solution
gressive change increase. Strong and continued especially in remote rural areas for remote communities. Estimates suggest
partnership amongst various stakeholders that the annual energy potential from solar
(Governments, NGOs, communities) and • A lack of information exchange among govern- radiation on the territory of the most part of
capacity building is a prerequisite to achieving ment regulatory bodies, international organiza- South Asian countries, countries of Africa
total sanitation. A main goal of NGOs should tions, local NGOs and communities on existing and Middle East exceeds its total proven hy-
be to keep governments accountable, keep problems, experiences and opportunities; drocarbon reserves (ISES, 2004).
sanitation on the political agenda, mobilize
citizens, and deliver access to sanitation. • A lack of transparency; and, Available Equipment &
Technologies, Appropriate
• Difficulties with custom and tax regulations, Logistics
security regimes and legislative norms at the
federal and provincial levels. Despite many efforts undertaken by interna-
tional organizations, the lack of sanitation
Coordination of Interna- contributes significantly to the burden of illness
tional Assistance associated with water-related diseases. Large
scale solutions to the sanitation crisis are not
The level of collaboration between Canadian always practical. These approaches require
NGOs is quite low, limiting coordination of significant capacity in engineering, business
project initiatives, the mobilization of resources, development and fiscal management as well as
development of institutional capacity, as well long-term support from donors, which does
as exchange of technical expertise and best not fit the typical donor funding cycle of 1 to
practices. A number of Canadian organizations 2 years. Moreover, these approaches tend to
are working on similar sanitation projects, fac- encounter problems associated with a shortage
ing similar challenges with project design and of trained administrative and technical staff.
Construction of shallow wells in Somalia © IDRF
implementation. There is a deficit of adequate

gender-inclusive approach. Gender issues in Local Communities
The most efficient way to design sanitation go beyond the understanding of
IWS projects, especially for women as simply being ‘water stewards’ of The integration of international sanitation
remote rural areas, is to use potable water resources. Providing flexible projects and the life of local communities is
and effective community-oriented gender dependent upon flexible and effective com-
“plug-in” technologies that are policy reflecting local traditions while also munity-oriented policy. IDRF’s mandate is
flexible, compact, mobile and solar mainstreaming gender is central to integrating based on Islamic principles of human dignity,
powered. Most importantly, these sanitation projects within local communities. self-reliance and social justice and depends
Despite the progressive policy initiatives upon unique, indigenous solutions to self-
technologies should be readily advocating for greater female participation identified needs. Within this context, com-
transferable to local communities in sanitation initiatives via membership quo- munity participation is not just seen as mere
so that local stakeholders tas and training activities, there remains a input into the management of the Project
significant gap in practical implementation Cycle (Identification and Design) but has to
themselves can be responsible for of gender-inclusive initiatives. Formal and be viewed as an underlining principle that
operation and maintenance. informal structures are considered to be a strengthens and augments all activities. This
critical entry point for women to participate has resulted in very responsive and effective
in platforms of dialogue and hence negoti- programming because local organizations are
Human Resources ate change. This is of particular relevance in able not only to deliver results but experience a
emergency relief situations. great deal of ownership over the projects, thus
Given that most international donor organiza- improving sustainability of the interventions.
tions terminate activities at the end of a project,
it is necessary to enhance the capacity of local Results/Reporting Dichotomy
partners to achieve financial sustainability
and self-sufficiency post-project in order to The micro level realities of participatory devel-
ensure long-term development opportunities. opment provide a host of interesting challenges.
Local development of awareness on the issues One of the key issues is to identify realties that
of sanitation through education provides deter meaningful participation, especially for
many more opportunities for application of women, youth, certain ethnic groups and the
knowledge and more extensive participa- resource vulnerable (within a resource poor
tion in reconstruction processes and future community). Although these challenges will
development. Low literacy rates and a lack never be ideally met, it is important to identify
of technical skills deprive people of the basic differences of power within communities and
resources to contribute to their enhanced work to actively mitigate the impact of these
health and well-being. Enhancing capacity differences in a respectful manner. Commu-
is essential in order to maximize the benefit Hygiene Promotion Session in Bangladesh © IDRF
nities are structured to provide leadership,
of external assistance. conduct social and religious activities, and
Local community traditions are important attend to legal, property, and economic matters
MICROECONOMIC FOCUS: when trying to implement gender-inclusive affecting their members. Clearly, therefore,
programs. For example, in the drought affected communities should be the focal point in the
Gender Northern Afghanistan region of Andkhoi, management of water and sanitation systems
established cultural and religious constraints because they have a vested interest.
Gender- inclusive participation in hygiene on female representation at the community
and sanitation initiatives, including governing level mean that women’s needs and concerns Transparency, accountability, flexibility and
structures and education or training activities, are provided through male representatives in responsiveness are essential, as is future stake-
directly impacts the longevity of community community Shuras (councils). Hence, despite holder analysis to aid and mobilize commu-
sanitation initiatives. One of the cross cutting great progress, there remain challenges in nities to come up with their own solutions.
themes of IDRF’s work is gender empowerment overcoming the practical implementation Rigorous focus from the donor community
specifically targeting women in resource poor of gender-inclusive agendas. However, al- on “outputs” “deliverables” and “timelines”
households and marginalized communities. though traditional governance structures can puts pressure on participatory development
It is recognized that this can only be an ef- sometimes be a barrier to gender inclusive projects. As a funding partner, IDRF is aware
fective agent of change if women have equal processes, they can also be an agent of behav- that the true test of participatory projects is not
access and, when required, they are given ioural change. In this case, the Shuras were output but the process that leads to creation
preferential opportunities to participate in utilized as a platform to provide hygiene and of those deliverables.
project initiatives. Recognizing the challenges waste disposal awareness to male and female
posed and the critical nexus between sanita- recipients. As a result, the region (population
tion, poverty reduction and social develop- 11,000) has experienced a sharp decline in
ment, IDRF’s projects have sought to invest water-borne illnesses.
in capacity building in hygiene promotion
and sanitation initiatives that incorporate a

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 17

BINARIES economic participation and girls’ participation in
school. Further, women and girls act as primary
Binaries can provide a useful roadmap for navi- caregivers in the home, putting them at risk of
gating the world of sanitation, but they can also contracting diseases from the contaminated faeces
constrain our thinking. These binaries need to be of children and the ill. It has been widely recognized
revisited periodically in order to ensure that they that benefits accrue from involving women in the
are useful and progressive. Key binaries that have design, implementation and management of sanita-
the potential to derail the most well-intentioned tion systems (e.g. WSSCC 2006).
solutions include: wet versus dry sanitation; male
versus female needs; shared versus private facili- Shared sanitation facilities need to be valued.
ties; and, provision versus use. The sanitation ladder approach does not recognise
shared sanitation facilities as “improved” because
While some argue that water-based sewage shared facilities can create barriers to safe access
treatment technologies represent the pinnacle for women and girls. But in slum areas where
of improved sanitation, they may not be eco- space is at a premium, shared facilities designed
logically or economically feasible or appropri- with the needs of females in mind, may represent
ate. The current sanitation ladder (Figure 1) does the best possible practice for immediate improve-
not privilege water-based sanitation over other ment to sanitation coverage. The question of
forms of sanitation. However, centralized water- which technologies best meet the needs of girls
based sanitation systems, used in most regions of and women in diverse environments is not well-
the world with high levels of access to improved articulated by the current hierarchy depicted by the
sanitation, were inherited via the infrastructure sanitation ladder approach. Shared facility designs
created during the first Sanitation Revolution in that meet the needs of women and children need
Europe. Historic scientific beliefs were based on to be included.
the premise that running water purifies itself; the
result is an infrastructure that promotes contamina- Long-term behaviour change is a prerequisite
tion and a culture of water waste in which users for the sustainable use of sanitation facilities.
simply “flush and forget” (Benidickson, 2007). Communities that do not understand the connec-
Choosing appropriate technologies is an important tions between hygiene practices and community
component of community-based sanitation, and the health and prosperity are less likely to adopt and
cultural privilege accorded to water-based sanitation sustain healthy sanitation practices. Many exam-
may discourage communities from choosing more ples exist of effective and efficient provision of sani-
ecologically appropriate and sustainable systems, tation facilities which lack sustained use. In order to
such as urine diversion and dry composting toilets. facilitate this understanding, buy-in and ownership
of the problem and solutions, communities and
Women’s voices have tended to go unheard, de- individuals need to be fully engaged. Participa-
spite the fact that women’s needs are materially tory methods that build upon local knowledge and
different from those of men. Defecation taboos existing capacity have proven effective, as has the
force both men and women in open-defecation promotion of relevant traditional practices.
communities to wait until nightfall to defecate in
fields and roadside ditches. Night-time defecation Stimulating local demand for sanitation is a
puts women’s security at risk. Similarly, shared first step towards sustainable improvement.
toilets put women at risk of violence and harass- However, in some cases, appropriate technologies
ment. Menstrual taboos, meanwhile, discourage can stimulate behaviour change (supply driven).
women from using shared toilets where menstrual Technologies that are useful, interesting or confer
blood may be seen, inhibiting women’s social and status can stimulate community demand. Some

communities have succeeded in creating demand Basic training is not available to community-
and stimulating community pride by encouraging based sanitation workers and professionals.
communities to choose their own technologies Currently, comprehensive community sanitation
(i.e., ecologically friendly latrines, or biogas toilets) training programmes or centres do not exist. NGOs
because of the benefit of selling the fuel produced, typically highlight a gap in capacity enhancement
being able to supply lighting in the home, or pro- as a major barrier to sustainability once they leave a
ducing dependency on other, less convenient fuels. community. Courses are needed that encompass a
range of fields in order for the local level workers to
BARRIERS engage and communicate with experts and officials
across water, sanitation, environment, finance and
Inadequate information is made available about public health sectors.
the links between poor sanitation and ill-health.
Lack of understanding at the individual level about Sanitation is under-prioritized by donors and
the intrinsic links between health, sanitation and hy- recipient communities. Social stigma associ-
giene, and therefore the importance and relevance ated with sanitation mean that groups need to
of maintaining sanitation and hygiene practices is be convinced to embrace sanitation as an invest-
one barrier to sustained adoption. Even when peo- ment priority. The significant benefits which accrue
ple are aware of the connections between sanita- through improved health and wellbeing, reduced
tion and hygiene and health and well-being, barriers burden on the healthcare system, improved water
(including land tenure rights, lack of time, and social quality and decreased environmental degradation,
taboo) act to prevent individuals and communities and increased opportunities for education and
from advocating on their own behalf in an effort to economic engagement have been well articulated.
adopt sustainable sanitation. However, individuals need to be educated on the
benefits that are of greatest value to them; differ-
Top-down sanitation approaches are not sus- ent groups respond to different arguments, and
tainable. Instead, approaches must be community- messages need to be targeted. The financial cost-
led. Communities, defined in the broadest sense, benefit ratios may resonate with the government
should make decisions about and deliver their own sector, while improved health may justify the effort
sanitation services. A broad definition of commu- by mothers. Meanwhiel, biogas production for use
nity includes not only people (i.e. households, indi- and sale may be the reason that male members
viduals and traditional leaders), but it also includes of a household embrace change. The cost-benefit
institutions, such as schools and health centres, analysis for sanitation has rarely been translated to
and in particular local governments. Community- recipients at the individual, household and commu-
led approaches enable flexibility with respect to nity levels. But households and communities stand
local social, cultural, ecological and economic to benefit in terms of, for example, costs savings
needs. Women’s unique sanitation needs must be for doctor visits and medications for diarrheal infec-
reflected through the participation of women in tions, as well as fewer work and school absentees.
sanitation governance. Further, community empow-
erment involves revisiting issues at the community
level; for example, issues such as tenure, owner-
ship and property rights, and coordination between
funders, governments and services.

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 19

THROUGH ADVOCACY 1. What are you advocating for? The message
AND SOCIAL MARKETING 2. Who are you targeting? Community and Stakeholders
3. What will be your obstacles? Underlying issues and context
Diana Karanja, Kenya Medical 4. Is there competition? Other causes/more pressing issues for the community
Research Institute 5. Is your message affordable? Time and financial investment
6. What are the perceptions of need for your message?
The role of advocacy and social market- 7. What are your strengths for advocacy and social marketing?
ing strategies in health, which aim to raise
awareness and foster policy change are well
acknowledged, but outcomes are often vari-
able. Investing in improved sanitation, with Laying the Groundwork In this case study, two communities were
zero open defecation and clean water, requires selected. Rota and Osiri are both lakeside
strategies that overcome many obstacles. Many Behaviour change is complex and can be communities with no running water and
nations, although committed to the sanitation heavily dependent on factors such as age, limited access to toilet facilities and sanitation.
MDG target, lack cohesive, strategic national education and culture. Various approaches Previous studies have shown high incidences
mechanisms for eradicating open defecation. can be used to bring about this change; good of water and sanitation related diseases in both
Efforts to tackle this problem have frequently principles of advocacy and social marketing communities. In fact, the disease perceived to
been jeopardized by a poor knowledge base and for health can be compared to principles of be most important in each of the communi-
ignorance, under-prioritization by governments business companies. For companies, effective ties was diarrhoea, followed by malaria. Both
leading to low commitments to community and targeted salesmanship brings about a communities had poor road infrastructure,
development and under-developed Health desire for the product. In the same way, health although roads in Rota were far worse than
Sectors, extreme poverty with constrained organizations can target specific individuals Osiri, and both communities had limited
resources, and social obstacles. and entire communities to buy into various access to health facilities and schools. In
health information and behavior change. To terms of access to sanitation at home, 75% of
change behavior (make a sale), there is a need families in Osiri had access to a toilet within
to target the most needy (best customers), in their compound, compared to 70% in Rota.
order to improve chances of success. The strat-
egy should also be evidence-based - supported Conducting Surveys
by statistics that the community can relate to
in order to invoke sustainable action and have Baseline surveys can be very useful in providing
the greatest impact. It is important to know information about the knowledge, attitudes
the issues well enough to present convincing and practices of the target community, and
arguments. This requires laying groundwork in identifying the best advocacy and social
within a chosen community, including baseline marketing partners in the community. It helps
Women’s group photo © D.Karanja
surveys and community mapping exercises to to begin the search with respected members
These challenges are illustrated in the case understand the community and for them to of that community and spreading this to
study of an advocacy and social marketing understand the issues they face. other groups within the community. This
strategy used to improve sanitation and clean information helps to inform the direction
drinking water in two lakeshore communities Choosing a Community and strategies to ensure that the decisions
in Western Kenya riddled with diseases that being made have the best chance to produce
are linked to sanitation. This project sought to Does a target community present itself due to the desired effect. Information gathered helps
provide information on sanitation, safe water its needs, or is a selection process necessary for planners and policymakers better understand
and water related diseases to affect change success? Communities may have a need that the prevailing situation, identify positive and
from open defecation to the use of toilets. they cannot define, and it therefore becomes negative factors contributing to the current
necessary to assist in defining this need before situation, assess strategic alternatives, and
Successful implementation of such a strategy the advocacy cause is accepted. In the case craft policies to resolve existing and potential
should bring about change in a community and of sanitation, a community may be aware of problems. Building an adequate information
enable the members to make choices that lead the consequences of poor sanitation such as base is a critical component of advocacy, social
to improved sanitation. This strategy requires diseases, but they may not be aware of the root marketing and policy formulation.
great communication skills and well-crafted cause. For example, open defecation may be
strategies. Messages incorporated in the strategy considered a perfectly acceptable means of
must be clear, persuasive, and should address waste disposal and asking the community to
the needs of multiple stakeholders within the spend limited resources to build latrines may
community, affecting behaviour change from not make sense to them. Community choice
the household level to policy makers. will therefore depend on actual and perceived
needs, as well as the available resources and
time within which to complete the exercise.

Identifying the Best Ad- Raising Awareness Outcomes
vocacy Partners in the
Community Important outcomes of awareness-raising • Post-implementation surveys with advocacy
among the key stakeholders include under- and social marketing community partners
Although it is not possible to target everyone at standing the cause and developing a sense of reveal an improved knowledge base and desire
once it is necessary to select individuals, both ownership of the issues and becoming ready for improved sanitation in both communities;
within and outside the community, who will to engage in advocacy, policy dialogue, and • Awareness raised in the general community
assist in creating the intended change. These planning. Awareness forums offer great op- for approaches to tackle sanitation problems;
individuals should be more accessible than portunities to identify a range of the commu- • Government representatives approached on
other groups or individuals in their community, nity’s priority issues and specific stakeholders behalf of the community;
receptive to new ideas, and should include • Area member of parliament participates and
individuals who have some authority in the advocates for sanitation;
community and thus are able to influence other Messages Passed on to • Member of parliament inputs government
members of the community. Initial targeting District Development Funds for improve-
of key stakeholders is useful in eventually the Two Communities ment of the security of the wells in the Rota
reaching those hardest to reach. 1. Improving sanitation and community;
drinking clean water reduces • Area District Commissioner participates and
Knowing who your best partners are helps in promises to continue advocacy for sanitation.
the implementation of goals that are relevant diseases and reduces health
to the needs of the entire community. Because costs to the family
relevance is critical, asking the right questions 2. How-to information on improved
will reveal how much your partners know
about sanitation. So the question becomes: sanitation and clean drinking
How much do they perceive themselves as water
needing what you are advocating on their 3. Illustrated hand books for further
behalf? The more your message talks to the
needs of these partners, the more likely they and future reference
are to listen to you, and the more likely they
are to pass on the message to the rest of the
community. In this case study, these individu- with a passion to lead the advocacy and social
als included the Government, represented by marketing efforts. The process of advocacy Osiri Water Well © D.Karanja
the District Commissioner and the Medical and social marketing requires illustrative
Officer of Health in the Ministry of Health, points to create persuasive messages for target EIGHT YEARS DOWN THE LINE:
local administration represented by the chief audiences. The Western Kenya project used
administrator of the location, and women’s information booklets, demonstrations, and Using the condition of do-
groups. visits by key partners to sites outside the nated water as indicator of
community relevant to the cause. Providing commitment to the message of
information on all possible approaches and sanitation and clean water in
making a sales pitch in formal and informal the community
settings was a key strategy.
Osiri water well is properly managed by the
women’s group and is used as an income-
generating project by the women’s group,
which helps to finance the maintenance costs.

Rota water well has been abandoned and

the women’s group is still requesting help in
its rehabilitation. Some of the donated ma-
Rota Women’s Group © C.Wallace 2009
terials have been removed for use in house
Traditionally, women have had the role of
household management, including family What happened in the Rota
health management, and are most affected in Rota Well © D.Karanja
cases of family illness. The Rota community
had a weak, loosely coordinated women’s group Why was the message embraced
that we identified as a partner in our activi- in Osiri, but not in Rota?
ties, whereas Osiri had a very well organized
women’s group that we chose to partner with. This remains an unanswered

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 21

BREAKTHROUGHS Social marketing and civic participation tech-
niques are effective tools in stimulating demand
In collaboration with effective partners and for sanitation. Examples of such techniques
facilitators, local governments can govern and include: participatory mapping, which helps com-
deliver improved access to sustainable sanita- munities make the connections between physical
tion. There is broad consensus that local govern- sites of defecation and the health impacts of open
ments are a key stakeholder in sanitation provision. defecation; school-based sanitation facilities and
However, local governments often lack the capac- hygiene programs, which encourage children to
ity (financial, technical and political) to effectively heed and pass on messages related to improved
contribute to decision-making, as well as engage in sanitation; local media advertising; household-level
the sustainable provision of sanitation services to training that includes learning about household
their communities. Sanitation improvement there- costs and benefits of sanitation (for example, cost
fore requires effective partnerships that connect of toilet as compared to costs of repeated visits to
local governments and their communities with civil a health centre, or the costs of medications); and
society, national governments, international donors two-stage or conditional funding at individual and
and local sanitation providers (private or public). community scales (such as governmental awards
Other stakeholders can endeavor to empower local programs that reward communities for transitioning
governments by working within and strengthening into open-defecation free spaces as a way to stimu-
existing political systems. late community pride about sanitation; and condi-
tional microcredit loans to households or individuals
(Waste)Water Operator Partnerships (WOPs) is that require construction of toilets before releasing
a successful new partnership model that has loan money for other activities).
emerged in response to public-private-part-
nership models. These partnerships pair public Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) can mo-
sector utilities in need of capacity building, with bilize communities to build their own sanitation
successful public sector utilities and private busi- facilities and stop open defecation practices.
nesses (the latter on a strictly not-for-profit basis). Pioneered in Bangladesh, CLTS is an innovative
The WOPs remove risk and profit motives while approach that rewards the elimination of open
encouraging public utilities and private businesses defecation practices, fosters community pride and
to share knowledge and expertise. The model facilitates understanding of sanitation and its links
was promoted by the Hashimoto Action Plan and to health. In this manner, while not providing ‘bricks
facilitates mainly south-south co-operation between and mortar’, CLTS paves the way for future invest-
regional utilities. A north-south component facili- ments in sanitation hardware.
tates technology transfer, training and information
exchange to enhance practices in the local area
(UNECOSOC, 2008; UN-Habitat, 2007). However,
by their very nature, these partnerships tend to
exclude both rural and remote communities which
are not large enough to sustain a large public util-
ity, and peri-urban areas which are not part of the
formal infrastructure.

Cooperative Group Usoma, Kenya © S.Elliott 2009

User-pay models can ensure sustainability by Small-scale pilot models have demonstrated
encouraging community ownership. Without the potential for local enterprise and employ-
behaviour change and a sense of ownership (for ment in the sanitation sector. Maja na Ufanisi,
example, via user fees), latrines tend to be un- or a Kenya-based NGO, has created jobs in sanita-
under-utilized. There is broad consensus in the tion construction and maintenance in the slums
development field that each community should pay of Nairobi. Rather than top-down privatization by
for their own sanitation services. This user payment large companies who see little profit in sanitation,
can take the form of “sweat equity” and labour and who tend not to reinvest profits in the com-
contributions, which is especially relevant for the munity, this alternative approach encourages job
most poverty-stricken communities and house- creation, local ownership and community economic
holds. In fact, in order for user-pay to be successful, development. Further, compost and energy-from-
mechanisms have to be in place to protect those waste toilet technologies (particularly in areas that
who do not possess the ability to pay. Encouraging are not currently on the sanitation ladder) could
the transition from passive “beneficiaries” to active create local economic and ecological development
owners is a significant step toward community-led opportunities.
sustainability in sanitation. This has led to a move
away from subsidy-based interventions and in-
cludes governmental award programs that reward
communities for achieving open-defecation free

A National Sanitation Strategy: Bangladesh

In Bangladesh in 2003, 42% of households overall did not have a latrine, increasing to 47% in rural areas
(Bangladesh, 2005). The Government of Bangladesh responded by developing a national sanitation strategy designed
to eliminate open defecation by 2010. This approach is integrated (water, sanitation and hygiene), multi-sectoral and
multi-stakeholder in scope, with NGOs being utilized to facilitate community involvement. Recognizing that behaviour
change is required for creating and sustaining demand for hygienic latrines, decision-making was decentralized to
the local level through Water and Sewerage Authorities. The absolute poor, schools and mosques are subsidized
through this program and a significant amount of the overall investment is allocated to ‘soft’ sanitation (awareness
and education campaigns, training etc.). The private sector is engaged through soft credit and skill development
programmes provided by both government and NGOs. Once local communities achieve 100% sanitation access, they
are rewarded through access to increased funds.

In addition to providing sanitation facilities, the approach incorporates resilience against natural disasters. This has
been achieved through ensuring that: sanitation facilities are built above the flood levels; designated evacuation
centres have adequate sanitation facilities; mobile sanitation facilities are available to transport to flooded regions;
and, media messages have been developed to promote good sanitation and hygiene behavior under state of
emergency conditions.

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 23

THE ROLE OF AFRICAN by the interaction of multiple stresses which Summit. It brings together the UN Commis-
occur at various levels and which adversely sion for Africa, the African Development Bank
CIVIL SOCIETY IN impact adaptive capacity. For example, Africa’s and the African Union. Its ‘African Water
ADDRESSING THE AFRICAN major economic sectors (agriculture and Vision 2025 – Equitable and Sustainable Use
SANITATION CRISIS tourism) are vulnerable to current climate of Water for Socio economic Development’
sensitivity, with huge economic impacts. specifices 10 indicators of success, such as
This vulnerability is exacerbated by existing access to water and sanitation, ecosystem
Edward Kairu, Executive developmental challenges such as endemic health, regional co-operation and sustainable
Director, Maji na Ufanisi and poverty, complex governance and institutional water institutions. While undertaking many
dimensions. Limited capital (including markets, successful initiatives, the full potential of UN
Chairman of ANEW infrastructure and technology), ecosystem Water / Africa is far from being realized. The
degradation, complex disasters and conflicts African development Bank’s (AfDB) Africa
are other major factors. Water Facility (co-managed with AMCOW)
Ultimately, real development supports pilot projects using best practices,
is in people and their ability to Africa specific initiatives new technologies and small scale projects with
to address the African a major impact on local communities. The
take increasing control over the Sanitation Crisis Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative
resources and decisions that (RWSSI) was established to mobilise African
directly affect their lives On the continent, pan-African sanitation governments and international donors to
meetings (AfricaSan) have been held since accelerate access to sustainable investments
- Maji na Ufanisi 2002 (Johannesburg) and have resulted in through innovative approaches to service
the eThekwini Declaration (2008). Several delivery. As of 2005, RWSSI was supporting
other declarations pertaining to water and 13 African countries with another 19 countries
Key characteristics of the sanitation have been made such as the Sirte under consideration. While AfDB has been
global sanitation crisis in declaration (Assembly of African Union, doing a commendable job in addressing the
Africa 2004) and the Sharm el Sheikh Declaration African Sanitation crisis, it needs to be more
(11th African Union Summit, 2008). In ad- aggressive in soliciting funds for the Africa
In 1925, Mahatma Gandhi is quoted to have dition, the Pan African Implementation and Water Facility.
said that ‘sanitation is more important than Partnership conference on water was held in
political independence’(Mulama, 2008). In Addis Ababa in 2003 and the first Africa Water Internationally, the Kananaskis G8 Summit
Africa, 342 million people lack access to potable Week was held in Tunis in 2007. AMCOW (2002) was followed in 2003 by the African
water and 585 million people lack access to (African Ministers’ Council on Water) meet Water Action Plan, established at the Evian
sanitation (JMP, 2010). Sanitation coverage on a regular basis to (in part) provide political G8. The plan supported African efforts to
in 35 countries is less than 50% (JMP, 2010). leadership, policy direction and advocacy and promote sustainable development of water
While sanitation coverage increased from strengthen intergovernmental cooperation resources; improve access to sanitation and
28% in 1990 to 31% in 2008, the number of to address the water and sanitation issues potable water; mobilise technical assistance;
people without access to latrines and toilets in Africa. It should be noted that, although improve sector efficiency; and support reforms
in SubSaharan Africa has increased by 194 AMCOW has managed to provide leadership aimed at decentralization, cost-recovery and
million in the same time period (JMP, 2010). in sanitation, it has not yet managed to lever- enhanced user participation. Since 2006, the
This is because the increase in coverage did age the kind of resources (internal + external) G8 commitments have focussed on health
not keep pace with population. Moreover, 46% needed to halt, let alone reverse the worsening systems, disease eradication, Avian Influenza
of Africans still live on < 1 dollar per day. The sanitation crisis in Africa. UN Water/Africa and vaccination programmes.
2006 Human Development Report (UNDP, was launched soon after the 2000 Millennium
2006) predicts that under a business as usual
scenario, the MDG sanitation target will not
be reached until 2076. Bad governance and
corruption in the sector, low political com-
mitment and political instability leading to a
proliferation of unfinished projects, exacerbate
this. Moreover, political leadership is de-linked
from society, in that very few Kenyan leaders
have visited Kibera, a slum village outside
Nairobi and there are very few sanitation
champions in Africa.

Impact of climate change

According to IPCC (2008), Africa is one of the

most vulnerable continents to climate change
and variability. This situation is aggravated
People working on a drainage ditch © Maji na Ufanisi

Examples of civil society greater consensus on community matters,
achievements values and norms within these slum villages.
Moreover, an improved understanding and
articulation of the structure of leadership has
led to democratic election of leaders. These
leaders are provided with enhanced leadership
capacity by Maji na Ufanisi.

On average, the community collects US $ 1,400

per month from water sales, toilet usage and
showering. The group pays salaries amount-
ing to US $ 236 per month for the different
sanitation attendants and operation costs
are US $ 157 per month. Thus, the CBO will
Newly cleaned up drainage ditch © Maji na Ufanisi
be able to save US $ 1,007 per month. Some
CBOs now have 5 sanitation blocks in one slum
Through trained teams of volunteers, Maji na village and are now working on modalities of
Ufanisi works with periurban communities to investing those funds with a view to buying
clean up and redig drainage ditches in order land and other basic necessities. Moreover,
to reduce environmental contamination and these projects have created many jobs for the Community gathering at public toilet
reduce human contact with faecal matter. slum dwellers including water vendors, toilet © Maji na Ufanisi
Furthermore, these teams are working to cleaners and office administration. In addition
clean up dump sites in an effort to improve to generating jobs and money, these projects Innovative ways of hasten-
health and well-being. A key initiative is to establish permanent structures inside the vil- ing progress in solving the
bring shared sanitation facilities to slum vil- lage, making evictions more difficult. Most of Global Sanitation Crisis,
lages in Kenya. Kenya’s more than 40 tribes the CBOs are currently in the process of being particularly in Africa
are represented in most urban slums in all the converted into private companies which will
major Kenyan cities. Maji na Ufanisi works give shares and dividends to their members. There are many approaches, which, if uni-
with the various government stakeholders to versally committed to, could increase our
obtain land tenure for the structure. Com- At a higher organizational level, the African progress towards the sanitation MDG. It
munity members are taught how to cut stone Civil Society Network on Water and Sanita- is essential to undertake genuine pro-poor
and build the structure. Interestingly, most tion (ANEW) is an organization for water and commitments and to treat commitments to
of the construction jobs have been filled by sanitation organizations in Kenya. Activities urban slum sanitation as national priorities.
women. Each 24 cubicle sanitation facility of the trust include advocacy skills training Water and sanitation should be integral to
costs US $ 27,000 to construct. Usually, the workshops, thematic areas (participation, ca- government Poverty Reduction Strategies
funds are given as grant to the community, pacity building and equity / inclusion) as well and Programmes and viewed differently in
by Maji na Ufanisi (from her donors). Given as developing a policy on a tracking and alert urban and rural contexts. It is also important
the lengthy community consultation processes mechanism to follow the progress towards the to take advantage of traditional knowledge and
that underlie the construction of a sanitation sanitation MDG target. Since 2007, ANEW practices e.g. Moslem habit of washing hands
block, it takes 2 months to complete one has partnered with AMCOW and the AfDB, before worship. Finally, a change in perspec-
block. However, through these dialogues and which will see members directly involved with tive is required, by viewing sanitation as a
interactions, social cohesion and community AfDB projects in the future. fundamental human right which safeguards
integration are enhanced. This has resulted in health and dignity; by viewing the 313 million
Africans without good access to sanitation
as potential customers; by challenging the
taboo in some African cultures, especially
through local schools; by facilitating the work
of community-based organisations (CBOs) in
African countries; by focusing on sustainable
service delivery, rather than construction of
facilities alone; and by ensuring that utilities
are answerable to consumers.

Community clean-up in Africa © Maji na Ufanisi

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 25

Binaries, Barriers and
Breakthroughs at the
National, Regional and
International Levels

There is a need for nationally-led policies,

capacity development and resource allocation.
While significant progress can be made towards
resolving the global sanitation crisis at the local
level, vertical linkages are required to provide the
local community (including local government) with
access to: grants and loan programmes; opportu-
nities to enhance capacity; best operational prac-
tices; policy templates; technological information
and specifications; and market forces (e.g. security
for external and foreign investors). Binaries at these
scales overlap with those at the local level and
include: the urban/rural divide; cost versus benefits
or economic benefit versus human rights and social
necessity; hardware versus software (infrastructure
quire increased sanitation investments, urban/rural
disparities will continue to increase. The greatest
challenge to meeting the MDGs will be providing
access to rural inhabitants. Lower incomes, lower
education, increased subsistence and a lack of
infrastructure and energy all impact the ability of
governmental organizations to provide sanitation
in these communities. Although slum areas dem-
onstrate significant deficits in access to sanitation
compared to formal urban areas, 7 out of 10 people
without improved sanitation are rural inhabitants
(JMP, 2010).

The benefit of sanitation to communities far

outweigh the initial cost of investment. The
versus behaviour and policy change); aid versus global community has begun to articulate the case
investment; and, government versus civil society. for improved sanitation in terms of economic, social
and environmental benefits. The return on invest-
BINARIES ment is manifested through cost savings in health
care services, workplace productivity, and school at-
There is a disparity between rural, urban and tendance. For example, $552 million in direct health
slum sanitation provision. More government treatment costs would be avoided by meeting the
investment is being made in planned urban areas MDG sanitation target (Hutton and Haller, 2004).
than in rural areas and slums. Governments are
unwilling to invest in slums because of land tenure Sanitation has been neglected within both
and ownership issues, which must be addressed private and public sanitation delivery systems.
by planning authorities in order to improve exist- Public delivery systems have not kept pace with
ing sanitation conditions. In general, access to the MDG target, especially in peri-urban and rural
improved sanitation in urban areas has increased areas where providing access is more problematic
by over 813 million since 1990, but overall popula- and requires distributed approaches. Conversely,
tion growth has been 1.1 billion (JMP, 2010). Given lessons from the water sector in the 1990s and
that urban areas will continue to experience the early 2000s have demonstrated that wholesale
fastest growth in the coming decades and will re- privatization and its more tempered version, the

A girl leaves a latrine at a child friendly girls school,
Quetta, Pakistan © UNICEF/NYHQ2006-0342/Giacomo Pirozzi

public-private partnership, have not provided the Sanitation software and hardware require dif-
promised panacea. Privatization is un-regulated, ferent delivery agents and mechanisms. Sanita-
leading to issues of affordability even though the tion hardware includes the physical materials and
informal sector is the only provider in many rural technologies for sanitation, which can be addressed
and peri-urban areas (Moore and Urquhart, 2004). by technical workers. Sanitation software consists
Impoverished communities are often considered of training, education and behavioural change that
too risky for private companies. Further, companies can be implemented with the knowledge and sup-
have seen little profit in sanitation compared to port of social workers and educators. Traditional
water provisioning. In some instances, private com- government approaches have been more effective
panies have tapped into public aid funding, loans in implementing hardware programs than soft-
and tariff revenue to create profits, while reducing ware programs. Compared to water projects, the
access and affordability for extremely poor consum- implementation of sanitation projects and their
ers. Recent research and resolutions by the UN necessary software for behaviour change are often
(Prasad, 2007) have confirmed that this approach less effective in creating community level improve-
has resulted in few gains at the expense of com- ments; they require longer time implementation
munity ownership and economic development. periods and investments to achieve their objectives.

Private investment for improved sanitation Sanitation solutions do not have to come from
should be the responsibility of community busi- established regional, national and international
ness owners, but it also makes good business stakeholders. Informal groups, centred around
sense. Investing in sanitation provides businesses, education, religious or other institutions can provide
communities and workers with long-term benefits, critical investment in pilot projects that illustrate
such as improved productivity and health. Long- the value of sustainable sanitation. This can then be
term investment in sanitation for the local com- expanded through linkages in the local community
munity and an insistence on sanitation and hygiene to impact a broader population with small-scale
within a company will reduce absenteeism and interventions.
presenteeism. This has a net effect of boosting
productivity and profitability as well as providing
significant external benefits to the community.

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 27

INTERNATIONAL Exacerbating the Problem
Many Western Punjabi families have returned
CO‑OPERATION: GRASS to India in the last few years to construct mega
ROOTS PROJECTS “koti’s”- large houses with numerous bathrooms
AND NORTH-SOUTH and toilets where they reside while in India.
These properties are locked up and left vacant
FACILITATION IN for 6 or more months in a year as families
reside in two countries. The construction of
these large properties, including the sale of
land to commercial property developers is
Mandip Sandher, placing a heavy burden on local families as
Canadian Toilet Organization they contemplate where to answer the call
of nature in an environment of diminishing
open space.
“Be the change you want to see in
the world ” Ghandi Getting Started

The primary reason to focus on the State of

“Recognize the whole human race Punjab was family ties, having migrated from © Mandip Sandher.
as one” Guru Gobind Singh that area and being able to relate to the local
sanitation issues. Punjab is a state in the North
West of India, and is comparatively a very After thorough review of the various toilet
“Through selfless service eternal wealthy state in India. For example, according technology designs and systems available,
to the 2008 Global Hunger Index4 , Punjab has it was determined that the low cost, 2 pit
peace is obtained” Guru Amar Das 2

pour and flush composting toilet would be

the lowest level of hunger in India. In spite of
the statistics demonstrating relative wealth, the best solution for the village project. This
sanitation, and open defecation specifically, solution utilizes 2 litres of water for flushing
Sanitation is a global issue and India is not and includes a squat-down design, concrete
immune to the problems associated with lack remains a problem. Thus a campaign was
launched among migrant Punjabi families now pit covers and a free standing brick enclosure
of access to sanitation facilities. Much of the with a metal door for privacy. Each of the
world has the luxury of access to basic sanita- residing in North America to take action to
improve sanitation facilities in their villages composting pits have a capacity to support a
tion at the very least, yet if we put ourselves family of five for a three-year period. When
in the shoes of others who do not, it could of origin. The campaign started by creating
awareness of the global sanitation crisis expe- one pit fills up after approximately 3 years, the
help to prioritize the actions required by in- waste is re-directed to the second pit. When
dividuals to make this a better world for those rienced in areas such as Punjab through North
American Gurdwara’s (temples), which are this pit fills up, the original pit is emptied of
less fortunate. Sikhism teaches every Sikh to its contents, which, after 3 years, becomes dry,
conduct seva – selfless service – to those in attended frequently by Punjab Sikh families.
It became quite evident in discussions with odourless compost that can be used or sold.
need. In the past, Gurus would dig wells for The families are responsible for the minimal
water and work to provide clean environments. people of various cultures that the issue of
global sanitation is not widely recognized. maintenance of the system. Each system cost
If these activities were good enough for them, CA$300 (provided by the Sandher family)
deeply-rooted Sikh faith believers, irrespective Many Sikh youth were shocked to hear about
the lack of access to basic sanitation in Punjab, including the cost of materials and a Sulabh
of where they are in the world, should be able labour and management fee of 15% (to cover
to take responsibility for organizing sanitation primarily because they have not travelled
to India. They were eager to get involved in workmanship and surveys).
improvement initiatives in their own villages
in India and beyond. campaigns to improve the situation.
A total of 10 out of a community of 300 house-
The first sanitation project was established holds were chosen to receive the first pilot
in the town of Chak Hakim, near Phagwara. toilets; selection was based on adult girls and
Meetings with the local village head committee women who were in need of such facilities,
confirmed that improvements in sanitation and were made by the local committee. Local
were desperately needed in the village and family representatives recruited alternative
that they were willing to help in any way donor families when three of the original
possible. Further, it was identified that the families pulled out of the project as a result
Punjab Government offer grant money for of misinformation from other villagers – they
sanitation improvement initiatives. were told that the toilet design was unsafe
because it did not have a traditional septic
bed system.
Improved Sanitation Facilities © Mandip Sandher.

3 www.punjabliones.com 4 Ref

Partnering Locally to De- not broken the habit of open defecation, but
liver Sanitation Solutions do use the toilet occasionally and the hope is
that they will continue to move towards sole
Research established that Sulabh International use of the facilities.
Social Service Organization5 – an NGO and

manufacturer of toilet technologies – was Through this experience, the decision was made
already involved in sanitation improvement to co-found the Canadian Toilet Organization
initiatives in India. Discussions led to a personal chapter of the World Toilet Organization
meeting with the local Punjab representative (www.worldtoilet.org) as a vehicle to increase
and a meeting at their Delhi headquarters with local awareness of the sanitation crisis and to
the founder, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, in 2008. continue the work started in the Punjab region.

Sanitation awareness is important at the local,

regional and national level, not just in Punjab.
The needs of girls and women must be voiced
clearly with heads of Indian states to make a
conscious effort to find a viable solution to this
crisis. It is important to educate communities
on the availability of safe composting toilet
options, which offer faster deployment than
traditional septic bed solutions. Sikh com-
munity involvement not only makes sense, © Mandip Sandher.
but is critical at the local village level in India.
The local village communities know their
own “back yard” better than anyone else. A
campaign and matching funds from the Punjab
© Mandip Sandher. State Government to encourage expatriates
to work in local villages would be welcomed Sanitation awareness, education
It was evident that local village support would by these communities. The Sikh Gurdwara’s and the needs of women and girls
be needed to ensure that the project was ex- (temples) and Indian media in donor countries must be adressed if a conscious
ecuted efficiently. A local relative was selected are efficient mechanisms to get the message
to coordinate the village input and work out and to rally community support. effect is to be made to find a viable
with Sulabh, who managed the technology solution to this crisis.
deployment. Prior to construction of the
toilets Sulabh carried out site surveys of the
selected households to ensure that sufficient Expatriate Sikh community
land space was available for the composting involvement not only makes sense,
toilet infrastructure. During the construction but is something at the local village
phase, Sulabh trades people were hosted by
the Sandher family. level in India. This can be mobilised
by government grant incentives,
Outcomes the Gurdwaras outside India and
Sulabh has confirmed that they conducted Indian media in donor countries
successful follow up site surveys and have
determined that the infrastructure is operating
efficiently, is eco-friendly and that the new
owners are satisfied with their toilets. The
project has been deemed a positive experience, © Mandip Sandher.
as 7 of the original 10 families are using the
toilets provided. The other 3 families have The experiences of this pilot project reveal that
5 The United Nations chose the Indian NGO,
full funding (charity) is not the best solution
Sulabh International Social Service Organisation,
in all cases. A 50% funding option will be
used in future projects in order to encourage
to highlight progress made in achieving a
ownership and increased prioritization of
Millennium Development Goal on July 2, 2008
sanitation within the family. Some families
during the High Level Segment of the Economic
have financial resources (the ability to pay),
and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN. More
but have not allocated them for sanitation
information about Sulabh can be found at: http://
(willingness to pay).

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 29

BARRIERS between clean water, sanitation and hygiene. But
some advocates are beginning to argue that, in
Sanitation is under prioritized by donor and re- order to ensure appropriate priority is given to
cipient governments. Historically, toilets have not providing effective sanitation improvements, the
made for great headlines. Many other causes have delivery and governance of water and sanitation
higher emotional and therefore public interest. Gov- should be separate in policy and practice. This
ernments are ultimately answerable to their voting suggestion raises several key questions: How far
population and sanitation simply has not been part should this separation go? Should water and sani-
of the dialogue. Sanitation is not a quick fix as it tation be examined separately as finance issues, as
requires investment in education and behavioural budget items, or in all aspects of provision? Does
change. There are many competing choices for this mean that sanitation should be considered
bilateral and multilateral aid - in the past, sanitation independently of other community needs? While
has not made the list. Moreover, fragmentation of sanitation requires a higher profile, an absolute
policies and lack of explicit sanitation leadership separation of water and sanitation issues will be
has made it difficult for recipient governments to counter-productive in the longer-term.
develop national and regional sanitation strategies.
For central governments, two broad approaches
Measuring sanitation progress is a challenge can be taken. One is to ensure that sanitation is
because the sector is fragmented. Community- represented across multiple ministries. For exam-
based and international non-governmental organi- ple, sanitation must be considered when building
zations (NGOs), national and local governments, schools and developing curricula, in cross-subsidies
donors and multilateral organizations, private with other community development initiatives
multinational companies, local small businesses such as shower facilities, and/or that its economic
and research organizations have unique and valu- development potential is exploited through new
able roles to play in different regions and at differ- local business opportunities or energy harnessing.
ent stages. A more harmonized coalition-building A second approach is to create a separate ministry
approach between partners, where tested, has that can ensure sanitation is a core government ac-
improved the strength and quality of partnerships tivity. In Madagascar, prior to the most recent coup,
and access to sanitation. Because of the fragmen- a new Ministry dedicated to water, sanitation and
tation of the sanitation sector, more work needs integrated water resources management (IWRM)
to be done to track how sanitation investments was given the capacity to monitor and invest more
translate to improvements in sanitation. The low strongly in sanitation than ever before (Rakotond-
priority afforded sanitation by some donor and rainibe and Rasolofomanana, 2008).
recipient governments is based in the paucity of
information specific to the sanitation sector which Central governments tend to measure provision
makes evidence-based policy decisions difficult rather than use, and household-level survey-
(WHO, 2008). ing to monitor use can be resource-intensive.
Measures of and methods towards progress on
While there is broad consensus in the sector investment and coverage continue to be debated
that sanitation must move to the top of the and refined and the evidence-base for improved
policy agenda, sanitation remains the “poor sanitation is beginning to take shape. The UNICEF/
cousin” to clean drinking water in policy, re- WHO Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP, 2010)
search and action. The broad sector, called for water and sanitation has begun to shift from
“WatSan” or WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) using provider-based data (usually central govern-
premises its work on the strong interconnections ment censuses and facility counts) to user-based

data (household surveys), as a way of capturing The Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation
the sentiments of community residents about their and Drinking- Water (GLAAS) aims to bring
use of community and private sanitation facili- together evidence of the changes in sanitation
ties. However, user-based reporting requirements, capacity and investment. A pilot report released
especially of multiple donors, can be onerous for by UN-Water, GLAAS consolidates service levels
communities. One way to address this challenge is (reflected in coverage data) with measures of
to streamline reporting requirements and increase institutional capacity, policy framework(s), human
community capacity for the management and moni- resources capacity and sector funds (WHO, 2008).
toring of sanitation via participatory monitoring and The report stems from the rationale that, while
evaluation. This approach engages the community monitoring activities are being undertaken world-
in its progress on sanitation and provides a reli- wide by numerous organizations in various sectors,
able, local source of information on use, rather than a broad mechanism to synthesize information for
simple provision, of sanitation facilities. Many local policy-makers does not exist.
contributors can provide more comprehensive and
locally appropriate monitoring and feedback than a The sanitation “ladder” measures degrees
costly external consultation. Moreover, it reduces of improvement in sanitation at the regional
issues associated with external experts coming level. Initial measurement of progress toward the
into a community and provides an opportunity for MDG target was based on a rudimentary analysis
increased ownership and empowerment at the of access to sanitation facilities on a binary scale:
community level. improved or unimproved. However, this scale did
not capture the needs of the billions of people liv-
BREAKTHROUGHS ing with only marginally “improved” sanitation. By
this measure, progress on the MDG could easily
The Millennium Development Goal for sanita- be overstated with many people still facing health
tion has forced the global community to mea- and economic hardships as a direct result of poor
sure access to and use of improved sanitation sanitation. While the ladder approach represents an
and hygiene. The global sanitation community improvement from the previous model, it does not
has begun to develop a body of evidence to inform address all aspects of sanitation, with the chosen
policy makers on the scale, scope and geography hierarchy of rungs still under debate. As the lad-
of sanitation needs (who needs sanitation, what der is based on measures of access, not use, it
kind of sanitation is needed, and where) and the does not: represent hygiene behaviour (handwash-
costs and benefits of investment in sanitation ing); distinguish between wet and dry sanitation;
(economic, health, social, ecological and political). acknowledge the limitations of providing private
This evidence is informed by measures of behav- sanitation facilities in crowded regions; or measure
iour change, not just by capital measures (use, safe disposal of human waste.
not simply provision, of sanitation facilities). Prior
to the implementation of this goal in 2002, there Bottom-up economic development pilots have demonstrated
were few baseline data on sanitation, conflict- opportunities for small business and job stimulation at the
ing evidence and data sources between national local level in sanitation construction, maintenance, social
governments and international agencies, and a marketing and waste technology and treatment. Higher-
lack of a common definition for what constitutes order water operator partnerships are a potential model for
“improved” sanitation. larger-scale capacity building, without resorting to 1990s-era
privatization. Public and private sector donors and investors
should look to help finance these operations, but the bulk of
financing can and should come from government sources.

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 31

TAPPING THE MARKET Organization estimates the market size to be and keeping up with trends are often higher
POTENTIAL - WHEN THERE about USD 1 Trillion. priorities than the perceived needs for hy-
giene, health, and productivity. Cost has often
IS A PROBLEM, THERE IS A been cited as a barrier, but Nobel Laureate
MARKETPLACE MohdYunus has shown us that micro-loans
can be highly effective. If the poor can get
access to financing, they can (re-)pay through
Jack Sims, World Toilet instalments. If the poor can afford televisions,
Organization hi-fi systems, and hand-held telephones, they
certainly can afford toilets. The take home
As the current global economic crisis erodes message should be that different models can
demand from the top of the global wealth still lead to the same result.
pyramid, companies are at a loss for how to
find the next big group of customers to fill INNOVATIVE FUNDING MODELS
the spare capacities created by this vacuum in
demand. Governments are hoping to design India, Sulabh International’s Pay-2-use public
policies to help businesses maintain demand Girl with cell phone next to her toilet © J.Sim toilets sustain themselves by cross-subsidizing
for products and thus maintain jobs so that profitable city centre toilets against loss-making
unemployment will not expand to unmanage- The cost-benefit ratio associated with access slum toilets.
able levels that may spill into social hardship to improved sanitation through prevent-
and unrest. Some poor populations are worried ing loss of income, productivity and other Dr Pathak, a social entrepreneur, founder of
that donor funds will dry up, having become quantifiable economic costs essentially means Sulabh and winner of the 2009 Stockholm
dependent on donations in the past as their that the poor can buy their own sanitation Water Prize, established a toilet program that
main source of sustenance. facilities and earn the income to pay for it if has liberated the low-caste “untouchables”
they are more healthy and productive. In the into a 60,000 strong public toilets workforce
This is the first time that the capitalist world at past, the reasons for not investing in personal
Davos (Switzerland) is questioning the limits sanitation facilities has been four-fold: people David Kuria a young social entrepreneur,
of capitalism. People are looking to re-evaluate did not realize the importance of sanitation started IKO-Public Toilets in Kenya using a
the meaning of progress and economic models; and their priorities for television, radio and Free-2-Use concept financed through cross-
having 1% of the richest owning 40% of all hand-held telephones took precedence; access subsidizing earnings from shoe-shine and
the wealth in the world and 4 billion living to sanitation supplies was limited; access to magazine/snack kiosks.
below the poverty line cannot be the most sanitation financing was limited; and, when
sustainable model. The world needs a new water and sanitation were bundled together, Jiu San Society in Southern China has already
vision of a bright and promising future. This water took precedence. installed 1.5 million ecological sanitation
historic moment offers a great opportunity for household toilets through a partial government
us to exploit the spare capacities of factories As seen in the past, donors’ funds are not subsidy program.
to retool for the unaffected marketplace at the sufficient to solve this problem. We need a
base of the global wealth pyramid (BOP); to systemic approach to create a vibrant mar- Dr KamalKar, one of the fastest innovators
provide an accelerated opportunity to balance ketplace and fund the building of market- with his Community Led Total Sanitation
the global wealth distribution because of the infrastructures to generate competition and (CLTS) motivates entire villages to build their
current economic crisis; and, that helping the innovation and serve this sector so the poor own toilets to become 100% open-defecation
poor through giving them access to goods and can be motivated to own toilets and, along free, all the more remarkable as the program
services will help the rich as well. the way, learn to become business people advocates zero-subsidy.
serving their local needs. The past approach
With 2.6 billion people without access to in marketing was too rational and forgot that
sanitation facilities around the world there humans are spiritual beings capable of emo- The World Toilet Organization sees its role as
is a potential demand for 500 million units tions like jealousy, comparison, pride, and a the platform to weave all members related to
of household toilets (assuming 5 persons per host of similar feelings that drove capitalism the sanitation community into a big business
family). The sanitation marketplace also extends at the top of the pyramid to exuberance and community. Together with the Sustainable
into non-residential toilets and treatment consumption. The same rules of emotional Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA), related UN
systems for schools, religious buildings, fish/ motivation apply to both the rich and the poor. agencies, the Water Supply and Sanitation
food markets, transportation and recreation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), and all other
centres, hospitals, government buildings, etc Approaches key activists, we can:
and if we include in the entire supply chain
from raw materials to designs, production, Aspirational Marketing will feature strongly • Map the network of existing resources and
transportation, logistics, distribution, mar- in this sanitation marketplace alongside the find synergies between them, weaving a multi-
keting, installation, maintenance, financing, rationality of good sanitation. Fear of being faceted approach that makes each unit effort
upgrading, capacity building, and all the looked down upon, the avoidance of embar- easier, faster, cheaper and better;
multiplier effect in between, the World Toilet rassment, the need for privacy and dignity, • Drive demand for sustainable sanitation with-

out subsidies as much as possible through a To be successful, we need to focus on the mis- than the rich because the poor need the brand
CLTS approach and other winning strategies; sion with pragmatic delivery, action-orientated safety of robust products and cannot risk buy-
• Involve the poor in the delivery and distribu- multi-faceted approaches where the strength ing the wrong one. Sintex, the largest plastic
tion to become sanitation businessmen, eg, of each network member energizes the whole company in India which produces bio-gas
in Sani-Shop franchises; network both in actual products and emo- digester units and a range of water and sanita-
• Fund and build Market Infrastructures to tional charge. We need to accept differences tion related products are already researching
facilitate accessibility to markets for the poor; in approaches, appreciate both small and and designing products to serve this market.
• Scale up Winning Models through innovative large successes and learn continuously from WTO has identified more than 200 low-cost
financing in Grameen-type micro-financing; each other’s uniqueness. There is no heavy sanitation products in the market made by
on-line financing portals like Kiva and Wokai; moralizing, no paralysis through analysis small players that can be scaled up. BORDA
pass-through donation like Give2Asia; in- and no competition. We are all collaborators offers mid-range treatment solutions not
novation driver like Ashoka Social Financial because the sanitation issue is so big; there is available from large systems suppliers. IDE,
Services; pure commercial players like Citi- enough for all of us to play our part. In fact, IDEI, Designers without Borders, Betterplace,
group, HSBC and Deutsche Bank; and patient innovations in this sanitation marketplace will Ministry of Design, Air Division, and a host
financial investors who are attracted by the only motivate others to come up with better of new designers are now developing new
triple bottom line; solutions and move this industry forward like sanitation products for the BOP. In addition, of
• Fund a WTO Support Center: bridge and any other progressive industry in the past. course, the old hands in this space like Procter
match all resources as catalyst driving demand & Gamble, Unilever, Danone, Cemex, and all
and supply; and, the hand-phone telcos are already doing good
• Simplify technologies into expert-system IKEA-for-the-poor and profitable business.
software that is picture-based so that the un- Mission: to bring affordable quality of life to
schooled can learn to be sanitation engineers. the common people WTO hopes to enlist the
help of IKEA for their expertise in logistics
Engaging the 2.6 billion customers with the and supply chain to enter the bottom of the
business community will allow us to exploit pyramid sanitation marketplace
grand economies of scale in supply, reduce
risk of investments and push down costs for The Role of Policy
financing, promotion, production, distribution,
capacity building, and market expansion into Government policy is another interesting
other sectors like water, education, healthcare area for development. With China’s economic
and food economies. When we incorporate engine slowing down, the central government
co-buying of raw materials, common shared is speeding up the “New Socialist Country-
components, R&D costs defrayed over huge side” program, developing the rural areas by © J.Sim
volumes, cross-industry innovation to medi- bringing “rubanization” (urbanizing the rural
cine, micro-insurance, material sciences, de- regions) including roads, schools, and other
centralized/ centralized production strategies, infrastructure to the less developed inner
… the space for an innovation for extreme regions. This acceleration in re-distribution Singapore:
affordability is very appealing. of services to the BOP in China will serve as
a great model for the rest of the developing Market Approach in Action
The good news is that the world has ready sets world to follow. Effective immediately, 30,000 In 1965 the newly independent Singapore
of key players with the appropriate technolo- unemployed fresh graduates will be employed was a third world country. Growing up in
gies, ideas, success models, funds, capacity, as rural teachers. Of course, the schools will poverty there, I have traced Singapore’s
and reach in their own rights. Currently they need toilets - with about 300,000 rural schools economic progress from open defecation,
largely function in silos and are to various in China, the market for low-cost self-treatment to drop over the pond, to the bucket-truck
extents, protective of their own space and toilets is clearly attractive. When the children systems, through cholera out-breaks,
scope of operations. The business community enjoy toilets in school, they will cajole their deaths and the cleaning up of the Singapore
can be also viewed as bottom-line driven and parents to put in toilets at home. Soon it will (Sewage) River, to our first flush toilet, to
not altruistic. Bringing together the global and become a trend and envy will help to move today’s deep-tunnel sewage treatment and
local players requires honest brokers rather the market forward. NeWater (recycling to drinking water)
than a strong leader in this case. We need non- treatment plants and our Marina Barrage
threatening, mission-driven facilitators who The general price point will range from zero turning rivers into reservoirs.
understand the nature of market mechanism cost to USD 10 to 100 for a start per family
and how to align forces in the entire supply and thereafter the up-graders market will The story of Singapore’s journey from
chain in mutually beneficial positions, prefer- develop itself into another major sector as the third world to first world has its roots
ably facilitators who do not charge consultancy poor starts to become healthier and wealthier, in our toilets, our government hygiene
fees for their work, and are able to harmonize moving out from poverty into the middle- policy, our human capital progress and our
the community towards the attainment of the income sector. Businessmen who can smell improvement in quality of life for everyone.
MDGs regardless of styles, philosophy, ethnic- the money early will be ahead of the trend
ity, ethos, motivation, ideology, technologies, followers and the laggards. Brand recognition
scale and idiosyncrasy. and loyalty among the poor is much higher

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 33

National Governments are recognizing the need and sanitation, is providing a platform for effective
for co-ordinated strategies to provide the requi- engagement, coalition building, sharing of best prac-
site policies and resources to improve access to tices, and advocacy and dialogue with governments.
sanitation. Over the past several years, countries In the developed world, networks such as SuSanA
such as Bangladesh, Madagascar and Ethiopia (Sustainable Sanitation Alliance) and the Sanitation
(AMCOW, 2008) have developed policies and/or co- and Water Action Network Canada (SWAN Canada)
ordinated ministries to help tackle the sanitation cri- have built successful coalitions to engage and
sis. These initiatives are having an impact on open lobby governments for international aid and action
defecation rates and general access to improved on sanitation. GoAL WaSH is a new international
sanitation, especially in rural areas. programme established by UNDP that will enhance
governance, advocacy and leadership at the national
Innovations for harmonizing sanitation invest- level in countries which are lagging behind MDG
ment, advocacy and action are becoming reali- targets for water and sanitation.
ties: the Global Sanitation Fund6 (GSF), the Sanita-

tion and Water for All; Global Framework for Action, Some countries have increasingly begun harmo-
the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory nizing the efforts of sanitation actors. In Uganda,
Board (UNSGAB) and the G20 at the international for example, a National Sanitation Working Group
level; sanitation ministries and coordinating bodies (NSWG) was set up in 2003, to coordinate and pro-
at the national level; and civil society networks in mote hygiene and sanitation in the country. To date,
developing and developed contexts. In 2008 the this has led to increased sanitation budgets, devel-
Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council opment of a financing strategy to improve sanita-
(WSSCC) and the WHO established a new fund tion and hygiene, advocacy, a national handwashing
designed to increase financing for the sanitation campaign, and the identification of best operational
sector. The GSF supports organizations in eligible practices (WSSCC, 2009).
countries by providing grants out of a pooled fund.
It is a financing mechanism established to boost Government-hosted regional sanitation meet-
expenditure on sanitation and hygiene in accor- ings have succeeded in bringing together
dance with national sanitation and hygiene policies. numerous actors in the sanitation field in order
Sanitation and Water for All, conceptualised by End to discuss national strategies. Since 2006, these
Water Poverty and supported by a broad member- regional conferences have been held in South Asia
ship base, is calling upon world leaders to acceler- (SACOSAN), Latin America (LATINOSAN), East Asia
ate coverage for access to water and sanitation. (EASAN) and Africa (AFRICASAN). In addition to
An inaugural Annual High Level Meeting will bring identifying ways of moving the sanitation agenda
together Ministers of finance, water, sanitation and forward, these conferences also create accountable
development co-operation in order to discuss and national leadership. They bring together ministers
agree on priority actions to increase sector perfor- across sanitation, health, education and finance
mance for safe water and sanitation provisioning. departments, sanitation experts, civil society and
local government. The net result has been a build-
Networks of NGOs have begun to work to- ing of momentum for sanitation provisioning and
gether to harmonize activities and speak to a an opportunity for various stakeholders to learn
common agenda. For example, the African Civil from successful implementation projects (Bartram,
Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW), 2008). The World Bank is currently following up on
a regional networking body of African civil society the various regional and national-level declarations
organizations (CSOs) actively involved in the field that have been established through these events in
of sustainable water management, water supply order to evaluate their impacts.
6 GSF: Investing in sustainable sanitation and hygiene. WSSCC 2008.
CAN A G20 (LEADERS) population without adequate sanitation. Even in examined this issue within the context of an
higher income countries, aboriginal and other L20 Forum: “Once SDS is no longer a ‘suffocat-
FORUM SOLVE THE GLOBAL marginalized populations do not necessarily ing impediment’ to progress, other important
SANITATION CRISIS? benefit from the same level of services as the aspects of the water crisis, such as water supply,
majority of the population. water for agriculture, integrated water resource
management, trans-national water issues, water
Corinne Schuster-Wallace, Second, as previously stated, the MDG for and peace issues, can be dealt with more ef-
UNU-INWEH sanitation will not be achieved. The UN Joint fectively. With the SDS log-jam broken, global
Monitoring Programme reports that between energies can also be more effectively channeled
In order for improved sanitation to outstrip 1990 and 2006 the number of people with access towards a longer-term global vision for freedom
population growth, a concerted and co-ordi- to improved drinking water sources increased from want and fear.”
nated effort is required that emphasizes the by almost 40% - the number of people without
value of sanitation and hygiene education in access has fallen to less than a billion. However, Sanitation provisioning has to be culturally,
and of itself, rather than as a component of the global distribution is uneven and some socially, economically and environmentally
access to safe water. It is equally clear that the countries will fall significantly short of the sustainable. Whether as a human right or in
solution does not lie in an existing institutional MDG (i.e., in sub-Saharan Africa). Rates of terms of human and economic benefit, sanita-
structure, otherwise the MDGs would be on sustainable sanitation coverage have increased tion should be made an immediate priority.
target. The UN has significant convening pow- at a much slower rate, which, when extrapo- Global environmental change is only going to
ers, but given its size and complexity, it is not lated will mean that the MDG falls short by exacerbate existing global water issues. Timing,
sufficiently streamlined to take on this task; almost 700 million people. Furthermore, this availability and quality of water are becoming
the G8 is not able to represent the face of the does not take into account the other half of the more critical as climate change continues to
sanitation crisis and thus lacks legitimacy to population that is not targeted by the MDGs. affect the hydrological cycle. Given that the
tackle it independently. What better mecha- These data provide the basis for an opportu- water and sanitation crisis is hindering progress
nism to demonstrate effective global leader- nity to build upon the MDG experience and towards sustainable sanitation, it is imperative
ship through example than the G20 Forum, momentum that a new leaders’ forum could to deal with so that other water-related issues
consisting of key developed and developing use to establish its place and utility at the global can be placed at the forefront. Moreover, the
countries, representing international political level; improving and co-ordinating the response release of human and financial capital as a result
will, financial capacity, technological capacity required for 100% access to sanitation by 2025. of reduced illness and health care costs, along
and human capacity? One of the key advantages of a leaders’ forum with increases in education and productivity,
is that in order to be successful, solutions to would be invaluable.
In 2005, then-Prime Minister of Canada, Paul the water and sanitation crisis require input
Martin, articulated the benefits and use of this from the finance, health, water, education and It could be argued that the state of the global
new leaders’ forum. The fiscal G-20 – central environment ministries as well as multi-level economy precludes the coming together of
bank governors and finance ministers from 20 action within a country. the G20 Leaders to solve the global sanitation
leading and emerging economic countries – first crisis. Alternatively, the crisis can be seen as an
met in 1999. According to Martin, the fiscal Third, the problem does not lie in technology or opportunity to mobilize communities, invest in
G20 provided several lessons: some problems affordability - rather, empowerment, education, infrastructure and education and stimulate the
can only be dealt with at a political level; all capacity building, co-ordination and political local economy, as well as to stabilize economies
countries are dealing with and are affected will are the prerequisites for sustainability. It around the world. Canada will host the G8 and
by similar issues; and, when you provide a has been argued previously that sanitation is an G20 in 2010 – a place to demonstrate leader-
platform for open dialogue between national inherently local problem not suited to a global ship, highlight the global sanitation crisis and
decision-makers, solutions are created and forum; however, co-ordinated top-down and catalyse movement towards a G20 solution.
resolutions generated. bottom-up action is necessary to resolve this
global crisis. Specifically, a Leaders G20 can
There are four compelling motivations in minimize the political risk involved in invest-
support of a global leaders’ forum to address ment and has greater leverage for developing
the sanitation crisis. First, of all global crises, economic markets. A semi-structured forum When you provide a platform for
the sanitation crisis is financially achievable, mechanism - such as the G8 - has proven the open dialogue between national
results in significant economic benefits and utility of international frameworks for action decision-makers, solutions are
is one of the most fundamental steps towards that are implemented at the national level.
eradicating poverty, improving education, and created and resolutions generated.
maximizing the potential of individuals, along Finally, the crisis affects marginalized individu-
with access to safe drinking water. Specifically, als as well as the least fortunate countries within The global sanitation crisis is not
global rates of return on investments in water the world. The G20 has a moral obligation,
and sanitation are estimated to be between 3 as well as an inherent self-interest via their driven by technological constraints,
and 34 USD for every dollar invested (Hutton representation within many of these groups. but by a lack of enpowerment,
and Bartram, 2008). This is of direct or indirect education, co-ordination and
benefit to each country around the table as well Grounds for addressing the global crisis lie in
as those represented by proxy. G20 members the development multiplier, as summarized by political will.
account for approximately 70% of the global Ralph Daley and others (2004: p.8) who first

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 35

Future Challenges and


Climate change will bring about broad impacts on society

through a changing water cycle. Future scenarios indicate that the
effects of climate change will vary according to location, but in gen-
eral, current spatial patterns of water quality and quantity will be al-
tered through changes in frequency, duration, intensity and timing of
precipitation events. This will lead to more frequent and severe water
contamination events. In some regions where water resources are
already scarce, this may lead to intolerable water shortages. In other
areas where the infrastructure does not exist to capture less fre-
quent, but more intense precipitation events, or cannot handle flood

1. Sanitation must be addressed in the

broader context of global poverty and
in concert with the other MDGs as
part of an overall strategy to increase
global equity. The role of sanitation
in education, empowerment and
engagement within the local economy
through a reduced burden on health and
well-being is a critical component.

2. Sanitation should be a primary focus

but must be situated within the broader
context of water management and access
to safe water. From an epidemiological
events, water shortages may occur.
perspective, sanitation and hygiene are
equally important as transmission routes
In areas where adequate access to sanitation does not exist, for water-related diseases, and as such it
this change in water resources will exacerbate existing prob- is not practical to target interventions at
one transmission route to the exclusion
lems. For example, during flood events in areas of no or insufficient of others. Maintaining a distinction
sanitation, shallow groundwater aquifers and surface waters will between water supply and sanitation
become contaminated. During periods of drought, hygiene practices will only work if we recognise and
incorporate their inherent links.
are likely to suffer due to a lack of access to water, and contaminants
will be concentrated in reduced water bodies. As such, sanitation as 3. Sanitation must be integrated into
a barrier to source water protection plans will assume a heightened community life – holistic, community-
based and community-driven. Empower
level of importance. local communities (not just households)
to identify needs, change behaviour,
Superimposed upon climate change and the global sanitation crisis, create demand for ownership and
overcome obstacles such as land
population growth, urbanisation and land use changes may serve to tenure. Simply providing latrines is
increase population density, stress existing sanitation systems and not a sustainable solution – sanitation
increase contact between individuals and faecal material, conse- facilities must be used and maintained.
As it stands, many water and sanitation
quently increasing exposure to and likelihood of disease. Clearly, projects are no longer operating after
these global changes have significant implications for human health 5-7 years – they fall into disrepair, or
for those already living under poor sanitary conditions. are used for other purposes including
food storage, or are technologically or
environmentally inappropriate for local
conditions (requiring large amounts of
water in dry areas, or flooding in wet

Cambodia, 1992 © UNICEF/NYHQ1992-1621/Lemoyne

areas).Top-down and other prescriptive 5. “Acceptable” sanitation access must be communities around the world. Despite
approaches are not sustainable and do not redefined within the context of gender, high risks and low per unit profit margins,
always meet the needs of the individual, economic realities and environmental the size of this untapped market and the
family or community. In order for constraints. The sanitation ladder concept social marketing strategies that can be
sanitation solutions to be appropriate and is a significant improvement over previous brought to bear could realise a significant
embraced by community members, the measures, but it does not recognise some return on investment, in both financial
process needs to be driven, implemented types of sanitation facilities that are being and human capital terms.
and embraced by an empowered and used successfully in various locations and
enlightened community. Mechanisms for situations. A new definition of sanitation is 9. Countries need to recommit to official
facilitation will vary according to social, required that reflects gender sensitivities, development assistance equal to 0.7%
economic and cultural contexts, but will economic realities and environmental of GDP and, within this framework,
include education, social marketing and constraints. commit 0.002% of GDP to international
supply driven approaches. investments in sanitation. Sanitation has
6. Achievement targets should be redefined, been in the shadow of drinking water for
4. Investments in sanitation must be co- moving from 50% coverage by 2015 to far too long. When considered together, it
ordinated, long-term and focus on both 100% coverage by 2025. The MDG process is impossible to identify what proportion
“software” (usage) as well as “hardware” has provided momentum and an increased of aid/investment has been targeted
(facilities). To make monitoring more commitment to global sanitation. It has towards the sanitation crisis. Although
valuable, community-based evaluations also demonstrated the inherent difficulties sanitation cannot and should not be
should strive to integrate and examine associated with reaching this milestone, addressed in isolation, it is valuable and
failures and successes associated with particularly in some regions of the world. timely to identify specific investments,
sanitation delivery. The Global Sanitation successful approaches and to fund
Fund is an important step forward; donors 7. National NGOs need to co-ordinate sanitation in its own right. Achieving a
need to demonstrate support in this their response to the sanitation crisis target of 100% sanitation by 2025 would
initiative. Similarly, the UN International and enhance communication, especially require an additional US$20 billion per
Year of Sanitation 2008 made great strides regarding lessons learned, to form an year over and above the costs of achieving
in advocating for sanitation, as did the effective and vocal lobby group for the MDG (Daley et al, 2004). The cost
launch of the SUstainable SANitation sanitation advocacy in order to facilitate of achieving the MDG is approximately
Alliance (SUSANA). We must not allow a co-ordinated response. Within $10 billion per year in 2000 USD (Hutton
this momentum to fade. In addition, countries, this unified voice is important and Bartram, 2004). In 2006, 0.002%
new financing mechanisms need to be to draw attention to the sanitation crisis of GDP for high-income countries was
explored, including cross subsidization (independent of the water crisis) and approximately US$60 billion. Given the
of sanitation through, for example, water to demonstrate the need for national subsequent economic downturn and
services (e.g. bottled water) and payment investment. accounting for inflation, a commitment
for ecological services (e.g. nutrient of 0.002% of GDP should provide the
reduction). Monitoring and evaluation 8. New business models should be designed requisite investment for achieving
must address the sustainability of sanitation to develop markets at the bottom of the sanitation for all by 2025.
facilities and hygiene behaviour – that is, to pyramid and deal with the apexes of
measure sanitation’s “software” (usage) as the water-sanitation-hygiene triangle
well as its “hardware” (facilities). Moreover, concurrently. There is tremendous
community-based evaluations should be business potential in solutions that
established and strive to integrate and improve health and well-being through
examine failures and successes associated reducing the transmission of water-
with sanitation delivery. related diseases if they are designed to
meet the needs of vulnerable families and

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 37


Finding effective solutions for wastewater utili- The emerging discussion around access to water
zation is an integral part of the response to the and sanitation in the context of human rights
sanitation crisis. In regions of the world where may provide a new conceptual and legal frame-
water scarcity is experienced on a regular and/or work for future action. Debates over the nature of
persistent basis, creative sanitation practices are sanitation as a private benefit, an untapped mar-
being developed to maximise water returns to the ket, a public service, or an international moral and
hydrologic system. Such initiatives include: spray- economic obligation have characterized the sanita-
ing treated wastewater into groundwater recharge tion discourse for many years. Article 25(1) of the
zones; using natural vegetation to treat waste- Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “(1)
water; and using dual plumbing systems so that Everyone has the right to a standard of living ad-
greywater (from hand, body and clothes washing) equate for the health and well-being of himself and
can be reused for irrigation and to flush toilets with of his family, including food, clothing, housing and
minimum treatment. Black water recycling re- medical care and necessary social services, and the
quires more stringent treatment practices in order right to security in the event of unemployment, sick-
to ensure that the wastewater is safe for re-use. ness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of
Technological advances are not seen as barriers to livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”7 The

implementation and uptake of these conservation provisions around health, well-being, food and eco-
practices; rather, cultural and religious sensitivi- nomic security contribute to discussions advocating
ties and policies for implementation are preventing for the identification of water as a human right. In
uptake. In countries with the finances to invest in South Africa, the right to water has constitutional
these solutions, building codes, water quality pro- status and is set at a rate of 25 L per person per day.
tocols and other legal instruments require signifi- The recent report by the UN Independent Expert,
cant modifications in order to allow these types of Catarina de Albuquerque, suggests that the hu-
technologies to become mainstream. man right to sanitation in and of itself is inextricably
linked to other human rights (Albuquerque, 2009).
Moreover, the right to sanitation involves explicit
requirements in terms of accessibility, affordability,
availability, quality and acceptability (Albuquerque,
2009). However, currently there is no consensus
that the human rights framework is an effective legal
mechanism for sanitation promotion. The concept
The sanitary revolution needed for the 21st century of sanitation as a human right may reduce commu-
requires investment not in vast tunnels for sewerage, nity responsibility for and ownership of sanitation
but in helping to create an intermediary sanitary (many advocate some form of user-pay for sanitation
economy with cheap, attractive, good quality services).
products ready to meet the emerging demand for
simple, decent facilities. Such an economy would
have the attraction of providing local people with
jobs - not as miserable muck-shovellers, but in
respectable skilled occupations. Black, 2008

7 http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html

SANITATION AFTER THE MDGS c) The increasingly harmonized policy and fi-
– A NEW REVOLUTION? nance infrastructure for sanitation, including
the Global Sanitation Fund, regional networks
In 2007, sanitation was recognised as the most and sanitation meetings, national ministries
important medical advance of the past 150 years, for sanitation, the international G20 and other
according to a poll conducted by the British Medi- forums, which provide opportunities to stream-
cal Journal (Ferriman, 2007). It is time for a new line and track investments in and commitments
sanitation revolution, one that invests in sustainable to sanitation.
sanitation for all people by incorporating and build-
ing upon the scientific, social, legal, economic and
technological advances of the past 150 years. Meeting this commitment will entail further invest-
ment and commitment by the global community,
A new goal of 100% sustainable sanitation including commitments to continue monitoring and
coverage by 2025 is required. Building upon the refining evaluation measures for progress, coverage
momentum of the MDG target, key stakeholders and use; and commitments to build local capacity
should be evaluating levels of resources, capacity at the local governmental level. In summary, de-
development and behaviour change required to veloping countries have the opportunity to partake
provide improved global sanitation by 2025. It is in a new sanitation revolution – one that provides
time to begin a new review of targets and timelines environmentally, financially and culturally sensitive
for sanitation coverage. The 2006 Human Develop- sanitation.
ment Report (UNDP, 2006) estimated that annual
investments of $30 billion are required to provide
universal water and sanitation access - an additional
$20 billion per year over investments for MDG
targets. Investments would need to be targeted to-
wards Sub Saharan Africa and Asia, where progress
towards the MDG target is slowest. New targets
and timelines are made possible via the combined
breakthroughs of:

a) New approaches to Community-Led Total

Sanitation, which have led to remarkably rapid
elimination of open defecation in many commu-
nities across several countries;

b) More accurate measurement of coverage

under the Sanitation Ladder and use under par-
ticipatory monitoring and evaluation will make
it easier to track improvements in sanitation at
the ground level; and

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 39

About the Authors
Alexander Karapetov,
Delna Karanjia
Jamie Benidickson and Jespal Panesar Jack Sim

Jamie Benidickson is a member of the Envi- Alexander Karapetov, Delna Karanjia and Jack Sim is one of the world’s toiletmen and
ronmental Law Group at the Faculty of Law, Jespal Panesar are staff members of Program a successful business man, turned sanitation
University of Ottawa where he teaches Water Department of International Development & advocate. In 2001, Jack launched the World
Law and Sustainable Development Law in the Relief Foundation (IDRF). IDRF is a Canadian Toilet Organization and hosted the 1st World
graduate programme on Environmental Law non-profit organization whose mission is to Toilet Summit. His vision is safe, clean, afford-
and Global Sustainability. He is the author of empower the disadvantaged people of the world able and ecological sanitation for everyone.
The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal His- through emergency relief and participatory The WTO has evolved into an umbrella or-
tory of Sewage (University of British Columbia development programs based on the Islamic ganization with 235 member organizations
Press, 2007). Jamie first travelled extensively principles of human dignity, self-reliance and from 58 countries.
in West Africa in 1970 and has recently had social justice. IDRF works on the model of
opportunities to observe developments in East empowerment and self-sufficiency, partnering
Africa in collaboration with the Centre for with national organisations that have capacity
Advanced Study in Environmental Law and and credibility to effectively collaborate with
Policy at the University of Nairobi. local communities.

Edward Kairu Mandip KAUR Sandher

Edward Kairu Maji na Ufanisi is a member- Mandip Sandher Personal life experiences
ship based Kenyan Water and Sanitation NGO have a wonderful way of re-connecting the
which has a vast experience of over 10 years. human being with his/her consciousness. In
It was established in response to the need to the case of Mandip Kaur Sandher, a successful
continue strategies and experiences of the businesswoman in Canada originally from the
former Water Aid Kenya. Over the last 10 Punjab State in India, experiences solidified
years, Maji na Ufanisi has maintained a focus the notion that success comes as a by-product
on building the capacity of partner institutions of helping others. This notion triggered a very
e.g. CBOs to analyze and address their chal- important question: how do women and girls
lenges and concerns. The three main thematic around the world cope with the social and
activities are Urban Water and Environment health conditions associated with post-puberty
Sanitation (WES), Rural WES and Research lack of access to basic sanitation?
and Advocacy.
ANEW formed in 2003 and registered as an MICHELLE VINE,
Africa CBO Trust based in Kenya in 2007. It Corinne Schuster-Wallace,
currently has a membership in excess of 200 SUSAN ELLIOTT
organisations. Some of these members have
their own memberships that register in the Kate Mulligan, Michelle Vine, Corinne Schus-
hundreds of individuals. The trust has four ter-Wallace and Susan Elliott are affiliated with
sub-regional offices in Senegal, Chad, Nairobi the water-health nexus programme within
and Botswana. the UNU Institute for Water, Environment
and Health. UNU-INWEH is the UN think
Diana Karanja tank on water. With a focus on safe water
provisioning in rural, remote and otherwise
Diana Karanja is the Director of the Schisto- marginalised communities, the water-health
somiasis Laboratory at the Centre for Global nexus programme is involved in initiatives to
Health Research (CGHR) in Kisumu, Kenya. enhance capacity at the community level, bridge
The CGHR is one of 10 Research Centres of research and policy at all levels of governance
the Kenya Medical Research Institute, a state and develop evidence based tools to facilitate
corporation that is responsible for national these exchanges.
health research in Kenya.



Zafar Adeel UNU-INWEH adeelz@inweh.unu.edu

Shafiul Azam Ahmed Freelance Consultant Saahmed22@gmail.com
Maurice Alarie Personal Interest Maurice_alarie@sympatico.ca
Lauren Alcorn United Nations Association in Canada Lauren.alcorn@unac.org
Syed Aljunid UNU-IIGH saljunid@gmail.com
Jamie Benidickson University of Ottawa Jamie.Benidickson@uottawa.ca
Kathryn Cooper Water For People kcooper@waterforpeople.org
Lori Curtis University of Waterloo ljcurtis@uwaterloo.ca
Tyler Demers Univ. of Guelph tdemers@uoguelph.ca
Safiyya Devraj Univ. of Guelph sdevraj@uoguelph.ca
Therese Dooley UNICEF tdooley@UNICEF.org
Susan Elliott McMaster/UNU-INWEH elliotts@mcmaster.ca
Ari Grief Canadian Toilet Org. ag@canadiantoilet.org
Tania Hakim McMaster University hakimt@mcmaster.ca
Jamal H. Hashim UNU-IIGH jamalhas@hotmail.com
Edward Kairu Maji na Ufanisi Edward.kairu@majinaufanisi
Delna Karanja IDRF dkaranjia@idrf.ca
Diana Karanja Kenya Medical Research dkaranja@ke.cdc.gov
Alexander Karapetov IDRF akarapetov@idrf.ca
Tom Keating Project Clean projectclean@mindspring.com
Bowdin King Federation of Canadian Municipalities bking@fcm.ca
Nick Markettos McMaster University market@mcmaster.ca
Carol McCreavy PHLUSH/American Restroom Association phlush@oldtown.chinatown.com
Karen Morrison Trent University karenmorrison@trentu.ca
Kate Mulligan McMaster/UNU-INWEH mulligkm@mcmaster.ca
Gioconda Ortega-Alarie CARE Canada Gioconda@care.ca
Eva Otanke University of Guelph eotanke@uoguelph.ca
Jespal Panesar International Development and Relief Foundation jpanesar@idrf.ca
Thilo Panzerbieter German Toilet Org. Thilo@germantoilet.org
Dr. Md, Mujibur Rahman BUET, Bangladesh mujib@ce.beuf.ac.bd
Mandip Kaur Sandher Canadian Toilet Org. Mandip@canadiantoilet.org
Corinne Schuster-Wallace UNU-INWEH cwallace@inweh.unu.edu
Gussai Sheikheldin McMaster University sgussai@gmail.com
Jack Sim World Toilet Org. jacksim@worldtoilet.org
Nancy Thornton Univ. of Guelph nthornto@uoguelph.ca
Michelle Vine McMaster University vinemm@mcmaster.ca
Connie Wansbrough Harbinger Foundation office@harbingerfdn.ca
George Yap WaterCan gyap@watercan.com

Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 41


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Safe Water as the Key to Global Health 43

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